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Why Bhutan should be on your 2023 bucket list

By Chris Schalkx

The monastery in Bumthang during sunset

Perched on the eastern edge of the Himalayas , the tiny kingdom of  Bhutan has always been wrapped in mystique. It only opened to foreign tourists as recently as 1974, only allows its two national airlines to fly into Paro airport, and levies a steep daily visitor tax to keep tourist crowds at bay. The result: a country seemingly frozen in time, unchanged by the whims of mass tourism and, as one of the world's first nations, fully carbon-negative. 

This  September , Bhutan emerged from a two-and-a-half-year pandemic closure with an even more ambitious tourism strategy. Higher daily fees make holidays here even more of a once-in-a-lifetime splurge, but the rewards, too, have grown. Here's why: 

View at Punakha Dzong monastery and Mo Chhu river Bhutan

There will be no tourist crowds

To get straight to the point: a trip to Bhutan isn't cheap. When the country reopened to international tourists last September, it introduced a new tourism tax structure that requires foreign travellers to pay a $200 levy  per night  on top of hotel bills and the remuneration for a compulsory driver and guide (Indian passport holders pay a reduced rate). These fees contribute to Bhutan's Sustainable Development Fund, a government initiative that funds community education projects, infrastructure upgrades, healthcare and cultural developments, plus upskill training for Bhutanese working in the tourism industry. Part of the fee will also be used to offset visitors' carbon footprints, which help retain Bhutan's status as one of the only carbon-negative countries on earth. 

These changes do give travellers more freedom in designing their itineraries, though. Previously, all guides, hotels, and transportation had to be booked through an accredited tour operator, but that's no longer required. Visitors can now book every element of their trip — from flights to drivers — independently, making it easier to stick to a budget by staying at traditional homestays and campsites. 

For those able to pony up the premium to holiday in Bhutan, the benefits are obvious: they receive the key to the last remaining Himalayan kingdom; an unending sprawl of snow-capped mountains; finely wrought dzongs and mist-shrouded pine forests, and don't have to share it with tourist crowds. 

Day 21 of Lunana Snowman Trek

Bhutan's iconic walking trail (and other postcard spots) had a fix-up

Up until the completion of Bhutan's first cross-country highway in the 1950s, the Silk Route-era Trans Bhutan Trail was the only way to travel between the eastern and western corners of the kingdom. The 403-kilometre route, snaking through temple-studded valleys, hillside forests and undulating mountain ranges, connected the dzong fortresses and sacred sites around Bhutan's numerous valleys and was used by pilgrims and merchants to move across the country. But after the highway made cross-country travel a lot more convenient, the trail fell into disrepair.  

During the pandemic, the Tourism Council of Bhutan and the Bhutan Canada Foundation teamed up to resurrect the trail as one of Asia's greatest walking routes. Hundreds of workers helped restore the dozens of derelict bridges, stairs and pathways that connect the frozen-in-time Haa valley in the west to the eastern capital of Trashigan and installed QR-coded signposts that provide background information on more than 400 historic sites, wildlife sanctuaries, and local communities. 

The monastery in Bumthang during sunset

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The end-to-end trek takes 36 days, but if you don't have the aptitude (or vacation days) for the full stretch, there's a pick-and-mix of itineraries to book through the  Trans Bhutan Trail website (which reinvests 100% of its profits into the trail's upkeep and the local communities). There are leisurely one-night jaunts through the rice paddies and rhododendron forests between Haa and Paro in the west; week-long immersions in the royal cities of Trongsa and Bumthang in the east, and 14-night treks with overnights at campsites and traditional homestays.  

And the trailside steps and bridges weren't the only fix-ups carried out during the pandemic lull. At the Paro Taktsang (better known as Tiger's Nest), a cliffside monastery in Paro and one of the country's postcard sights, out-of-work guides improved the oft-slippery mountain trail with canopied resting spots, concrete stairs, and shortcuts. After five years of restoration, the nearby Drukgyal Dzong, another Paro landmark, is nearing its completion and will soon welcome visitors for the first time since it burned to the ground in the early 1950s (until then,  Amankora's Paro lodge offers one of the best vantage points). In central Bhutan, the 17th-century Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, the country's third-oldest, is also receiving its final touches. Perched on a ridge overlooking the confluence of two rivers, the treasured temple complex perished in flames in 2012 and has been reconstructed following the original blueprint. 

Paro Taktsang Bhutan

It's festival galore

Whether you visit in spring or autumn, your trip is almost guaranteed to overlap with at least one of the many annual festivals around the country. These social gatherings are colourful affairs (and thus, a photographer's delight) and give a fascinating peek into the spiritual rites and rituals the Bhutanese have practised for centuries. 

The Jambay Lhakhang Drup festival, which will take place on 24 October 24 2023, is one the most enthralling and takes over the Jambay Lhakhang monastery in Bumthang with fire blessings, drum beats, and sacred naked dances at midnight. Also in October, the Royal Highland Festival is another gathering worth planning your trip around. Taking place in the high-altitude Gasa district in northwestern Bhutan, the festival is a showcase of the country's rich indigenous culture, with highlander communities sharing 16th-century offering rituals, yak beauty competitions and kaleidoscopic parades with onlookers.  

Bhutan's event calendar is also marked with tshechus around the country. These annual religious festivals see many of the dzongs turn into a rainbow-hued riot of costumed dancers with demonic-looking masks and intricately decorated headwear. Each region has its own dates, rites, and festivities, with popular tshechus including the one in Punakha (1-3 March 2023) where the unfurling of the thongdrol (a giant tapestry of Guru Rinpoche) is a highlight; the one in Thimphu (24-26 September 2023), where royals and international dignitaries attend dances in the Tashichho Dzong; and Paro (2-6 April 2023), where locals don their finest kiras and ghos (traditional dress wear) to turn the Paro Dzong into an improviso Bhutan Fashion Week. 

Bibliophiles should keep their eyes out for the 2023 dates (likely around August) of the  Bhutan Echoes literature festival , while sports fans should mark their calendars for the 2023 edition of the  Snowman Race or the world’s toughest one-day bike race, the  Tour of the Dragon from Bumthang to Thimphu on 2 September 2023. 

Jakar Dzong Bhutan

There will be new and refreshed hotels to check in to

Safari trailblazer &Beyond will make its Asian debut when  &Beyond Punakha River Lodge opens in August. Pitched on the banks of the Mo Chu River, a gurgling waterway that cuts through the sub-tropical Punakha Valley a few hours east of Thimphu, the lodge will consist of a camp with safari-styled tents in frames from local timber, plus a small village of one- and two-bedroomed cabins. All will be decked out in Bhutanese hallmarks such as hand-carved woodwork, intricately gilded details, and blue poppies (the national flower) woven throughout the interior designs. Private plunge pools (which become hot tubs during the chilly winter months) and a spa with traditional herb-filled hot stone baths will ease weary muscles after a day out rafting or biking through the valley, while meditation workshops and early-morning hikes to the nearby Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten pagoda will deliver spiritual sustenance. 

Six Senses Bumthang

Farther east, Six Senses added the latest (and final) outpost to its 5-lodge circuit with the opening of  Six Senses Bumthang just before the pandemic. Fringed by pine forest and babbling streams, the suites and two-bedroom villa from honey-hued timber feature balconies for forest-bathing sessions and glass-walled courtyards that bring the outside in. As with every Six Senses property, the lodge has sustainability at its core: chefs draw on the resort's garden and foraged ingredients, the purchasing department supports the local communities, and electricity, waste- and water management follow best-in-class practices. 

Regenerative travel also forms the foundation of Amankora's new  Quest for Happiness itinerary. Available from 1 December 2022, this seven- to 12-night journey guides you past Amankora's five lodges from Paro to Bumthang, which, even after almost 20 years in business, are still some of the loveliest in Bhutan. During the trip, you'll learn first-hand what the country's oft-discussed  Gross National Happiness index really means: from the joy of giving back to the community by helping out at an orphanage or purchasing crafts at a vocational training centre, to learning life's wisdoms at the first-ever retirement home for Buddhist monks in the Himalayas.

12 Things to Know Before Visiting Bhutan in 2023

05/08/2023 by Ashley Yap 2 Comments

This post was written by Ashley Yap, BMTM’s Malaysia-based writer.

Gross national happiness over gross national product. The world’s first carbon-negative nation.

Bhutan is a mysterious land of just over 700,000 people that seems to be doing things right. Nestled in the Himalayas, sandwiched between two of the biggest countries in the world — China and India — this tiny kingdom is for the curious, the spiritual, and the privileged few.

After having dreamt of visiting “the Land of the Thunder Dragon” for over 10 years, I finally had the opportunity to go explore it and answer a few questions:

bhutan travel 2023

Are Bhutanese truly happy? Is air really fresher there?

And how do you even prepare for a trip to Bhutan?

Here are things to know before visiting Bhutan in 2023:

Table of Contents

1. Bhutan Is a Privilege

bhutan travel 2023

In September 2022, two years after the lockdown, Bhutan reopened its doors to international visitors, with a new daily tourist fee: $200 USD per day, a steep jump from the $65 per day before the pandemic hit. The fee goes toward the country’s continuing effort to promote “carbon-neutral tourism while building a more sustainable tourism sector.” It also helps the government to maintain its “high-value, low-volume” tourism strategy.

So, if you plan on spending one week in Bhutan , that’s $1,400 USD of tourist fees on the table. You also need an average of $200-300 per day for midrange accommodations, transportation, food, entrance fees, and a tour guide. (I flew into Bhutan from Bangkok, from which a round-trip economy-class ticket costs $950 USD.)

It’s safe to say, then, that being able to travel in Bhutan is a privilege, and it’s not a trip where you can just wing it. So I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore the beauty of this kingdom with my own eyes, and can wholeheartedly say that it was worth the hefty fees and more.

-READ NEXT-

How Much Does It Cost to Travel Bhutan?

2. Tour Guides Are No Longer Mandatory, But…

bhutan travel 2023

While I am all about traveling independently, Bhutan is not a destination I’d explore on my own. There’s very little information online, and you are only allowed to travel without a tour guide in Thimphu and Paro, anyway.

After hours of researching online, I engaged with Breathe Bhutan , a local tour company known for its bespoke and unique experiences. Kinley, the founder, is a “multipreneur” who also runs a radio show, a pub, and a printing company, and you can be sure that they are all creatively included in Breathe Bhutan’s itineraries!

This was my first time traveling with a tour company, and I did not want an ordinary itinerary. Breathe Bhutan knocked it out of the park by combining the must-sees with interesting elements that you won’t find with other companies. I like that its recommendations and unique itinerary were based on our interests and tailored for us.

For instance, I was able to meet a Bhutanese teacher-blogger and chat about the nation’s education system and the youth’s obsession with TikTok. And our driver, Phuentso, who was mostly quiet throughout the trip, kindly offered home-cooked breakfast prepared by his wife on our last morning in Bhutan. These little details made our trip that much more special.

3. The Best Time to Visit Bhutan

bhutan travel 2023

The best months to visit Bhutan are April and May and September through November. These offer pleasant temperatures with minimal rain. Plenty of festivals also take place then, so definitely check with your tour company for their exact dates.

We spent seven nights in Bhutan: Thimphu (three nights), Punakha (two nights), and Paro (two nights). I wish we had had an additional night in both Punakha and Paro.

4. What to Bring to Bhutan

bhutan travel 2023

You will be spending a chunk of your time in the car, driving along mountainous roads. Most were scenic and I didn’t get bored at all, but you might want to download some podcasts or music just in case. If you are prone to motion sickness, prepare the necessary medications. You will also be hiking at high elevation, so pack altitude sickness medication and any others that you think you might need.

Bring US dollars. You can withdraw local currency and/or exchange money at the airport, though most places also accept USD. Credit cards are accepted in hotels, some restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Bring a universal plug for your electronics. A power bank is also recommended, as you may spend an entire day out and about.

Pack comfortable hiking clothes, and be clever with layering, as there’s often sudden change of temperatures. Here’s what I packed:

  • 3 short-sleeved T-shirts (to layer)
  • 3 long-sleeved tops (to layer)
  • 3 pairs of pants ( hiking pants , thermal pants and jeans)
  • 3 jackets ( 1 windbreaker , 1 short coat , 1 long trench)
  • 1 hat, 1 scarf, 1 pair of hand gloves
  • 2 sets of sleepwear
  • Enough socks, underwear and bras for the trip
  • 1 pair of very good hiking shoes (we recommend Merrell and Salomon )
  • 1 pair of casual sneakers
  • 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops
  • Toiletries (don’t forget your sunscreen )

(You could cut things down by having less of everything and doing your laundry during your trip.)

The Bhutanese dress conservatively, and you are expected to dress appropriately when visiting dzong s (religious, military, administrative, and social centers) and monasteries, so long sleeves and long pants are the way to go.

5. It’s Home to the Most Dangerous Landing in the World

bhutan travel 2023

Be sure to book a seat on the left side of the aircraft when landing at Paro International Airport. There is nothing like having the Himalayas welcoming you to the country. I was smiling ear to ear as we approached the airport — until I started noticing that the houses on the hills felt too close to the aircraft for comfort. It was then I was reminded that we were (well, the pilot was) performing one of the most dangerous landings in the world. Fewer than 20 pilots are qualified to land at this airport, and it is only permitted during daylight — for good reason!

6. No Traffic Lights Are Required

bhutan travel 2023

Bhutan is the only country in the world that does not have a single traffic light. Traffic in the Thimphu district, where it is supposedly the heaviest, is directed by the Royal Bhutan Police from a booth. I stood and watched as the police kept the intersection’s traffic under control using what looked more like a dance to me. It was pretty amusing, but hey, it works!

Fun fact: traffic lights were installed back in 1995; however, most drivers failed to follow them, and the traffic lights were proved unnecessary. They were then removed, and so it was back to the police.

7. Killing Is Forbidden

bhutan travel 2023

I couldn’t help but noticed many street dogs, cows, horses, and donkeys roaming about. However, unlike back home, I never saw any dogs fighting for food, and they were not afraid of us. Dogs and cats approach people for a quick pat, and very often, I saw people feeding them by the roadside. When I mentioned this to our tour guide, he said it was “because they know they are safe here.”

There’s not a single slaughterhouse in Bhutan. Fishing is illegal. The country’s belief system is deeply rooted in Buddhism, where killing a living being is simply forbidden. Bhutan imports meat from neighboring India, and you can easily find meat dishes at restaurants, but the majority of Bhutanese are vegetarians. It was an eye-opener and made me rethink my relationship with meat consumption.

8. Chili Is Life

bhutan travel 2023

Speaking of food, the Bhutanese love it hot! Chili is served as a dish, not a condiment, and it is present at every meal. Restaurants and hotels catering to tourists keep the heat manageable, which I am thankful for, because the one time I tried the locals’ style of chili and cheese, my tongue caught on fire.

That said, I enjoyed every meal in Bhutan, which mostly consist of several organic vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, and Bhutanese rice.

9. Spirituality Is a Way of Life

bhutan travel 2023

I was celebrating my birthday on the trip and requested a local birthday ritual. Our tour guide arranged for a 30-minute chant by young monks in a monastery. We prepared sweet rice, butter tea, and a birthday cake as offerings, which we shared with the monks. It was the most special birthday party I’ve ever had.

There were so many magical moments like this: I watched as our tour guide poured water into his bottle cap, offering it to the forest before drinking. I found myself completely speechless when a local showed us a dedicated room in her home completely decorated with religious paintings and statues. Elderly Bhutanese walked past us on the way to the Tiger’s Nest monastery as they chanted Buddhist mantras. At Chimi Lakhang, a fertility temple, our tour guide excitedly showed us an album full of pictures of new parents with their babies, conceived with the Lama’s blessings.

The Bhutanese are some of the most spiritual and gentle people I have met. In a world where everything seems to be in a rush, it was refreshing to see people take their time and simply be.

10. There’s More Than the Tiger’s Nest

bhutan travel 2023

If this is your first time visiting Bhutan, the Tiger’s Nest is a must-see. The sacred site hangs cliffside near Paro, 900 meters above ground, around the cave where Guru Rinpoche arrived on the back of a tigress from Tibet (hence the name), meditated, and later introduced Buddhism to the country. Tiger’s Nest is truly a sight to behold, but there’s so much more to the nation than its most recognized monastery.

I did four hikes in one week in Bhutan. Some of my favorites were the Lungchutse trail in Punakha, which took about four hours, beginning from Tashigang Goemba and ending at the Dochula Pass; and the Phobjikha Valley trail in Wangdue, which was an easy one-hour hike through a stunning valley.

We also visited several temples and monasteries; some favorites include Chimi Lhakhang, Khamsum Chorten, and Gangtey Monastery. I recommend including these on your Bhutan itinerary.

Definitely do a bit research and give your tour company a list of the places you want to visit, and ask for additional recommendations. You can read more about my Bhutan itinerary here .

11. P Is for Phallus, and Protection

bhutan travel 2023

I will admit, my 15-year-old teenager’s sense of humor was very entertained by the phallus symbols found on doorways and buildings all over Punakha, and I may have bought more than a few phallus sculptures and keychains home as souvenirs.

When you visit Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha, you will learn about the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kunley, a Lama many Bhutanese worship, who founded the fertility temple. It may be strange to non-Bhutanese that a country so conservative and gentle would venerate the male genitalia, but I’ve come to find the Bhutanese take on the phallus refreshing and thought-provoking, after learning more about the Divine Madman’s philosophies, which largely involve sexual overtones and controversial humors.

Today, Drukpa Kunley’s bold teachings remain widely followed in Bhutan, and the phallus images painted on houses are believed to offer protection from evil spirits and invoke the fertility gods.

12. Bhutanese Art Is Impressive

bhutan travel 2023

From wall paintings to the intricate thangka (a Tibetan Buddhist painting), Bhutanese art blew me away, and I am surprised that travel guides don’t really mention this. Almost all of the buildings we saw in Bhutan had stunning hand-painted drawings and patterns on them. We also visited a few galleries looking for a thangka painting to purchase, having really comle to admire the amount of work required to complete one.

Some handicrafts I recommend purchasing are brass sound bowls, wooden sculptures, paintings, incense, and yak fur products. They are handmade in Bhutan (but confirm this with your tour guide) and make unique souvenirs.

I have learned so much from this beautiful country in a week, and can only hope that more might follow Bhutan’s footsteps and focus on what truly matters: happiness and Mother Nature’s well-being. With everything that’s going on in the world, knowing that a tiny land is doing its best to keep its kingdom safe and unspoiled gives me a deep sense of hope.

There’s truly no place like Bhutan, and I hope you will have the opportunity to visit yourself!

*This post was brought to you in partnership with Breathe Bhutan . All opinions on the tour operator and the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon are my own. Your trust comes first!

About Ashley Yap

Ashley is the manager of Be My Travel Muse, one of the biggest solo female travel blogs in the world. She's traveled solo to over 20 countries, spending months in each for an immersive experience.

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05/09/2023 at 7:52 pm

Thanks for sharing your adventure in Bhutan! It looks and sounds absolutely magical. The mountain views are amazing. The Tiger’s Nest monastery and dzongs are breathtaking. I would love the food there with my diet! No traffic lights, I don’t mind that! That would be really neat to see how they make that work. Then you have the truly intricate art, culture and spirituality plus the views, and connection with nature on top of it all. I could find a lot of peace in this place. It is pricey, thanks for the warning but if can afford it a must see someday. Mentioning the Divine Madman, phallus and fertility was very interesting. Many religions/spiritual philosophies extol the idea of enlightenment through refraining from sexual activity, even castration so this is a refreshing take to show that you can achieve spiritual heights without depriving you of natural needs and even embrace it (phallus the opposite of castration). Fertility in nature is always wished for, good crops, abundant herds, etc. and we pray for it so why not wish it for ourselves? Things in nature are not evil or good in my thoughts, we make it so by our actions which in a way links the East to the West. The “evil” spirit mentioned here sounds similar to the “evil inclination” in some Western religions to ward off the “evil inclination” of people and often pray to keep this inclination in our behavior away, A friend a long, long time ago gave my family a phallus like piece of art that we did not understand that looks a lot like what is shown here, but now I do! Thanks! Oh and honestly, the adolescent in all of us was evoked when we received it at first. It is natural too but can’t be too serious all the time!

Justin James says

06/28/2023 at 8:07 am

Love the content here. Such an informative blog! Keep posting!

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Welcome to Bhutan – the land of the Thunder Dragon on the eastern slope of the Himalayas. Holding the majestic landscapes with breathtaking vistas, pristine forests, snow-capped mountain ranges coupled with the long-lasting cultural diversity shrouded in mythology, ancient beliefs and Buddhist traditions, Bhutan offers authentic experiences in the journey hike up to the most sacred Buddhist temples. Strolling along the longest suspension bridge in the country and learn about the daily life of Bhutanese monks in the Punakha Dzong which is widely known as the Place of Great Happiness. Let your soul mingle with the excitement of the most vibrant festivals, wear the traditional dress and gain a deep insight into the mystical cultural identity of the happiest kingdom in the world. The warmth, hospitality, and politeness of the local people ensure a memorable vacation not only unique but truly valuable.

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When we first started planning our trip to Bhutan, we were a bit overwhelmed. There were so many tour companies and itineraries to choose from. However, when we discovered Go Bhutan Tours, we felt like we were on the right track. One of the tour operators guided us through our plans with phone calls before our Bhutan trip and provided us with a thorough and clear travel guide, itineraries, as well as easy-to-understand cost breakdowns and comparisons. Once we arrived, our guide took us out to dinner and checked in with us regularly. The driver couldn't have been kinder and more accommodating. We managed to cover everything on our agenda and even more. Thank you so much!

Popular Attractions on Bhutan Tours

Popular tourist places and destinations in Bhutan that should be on your  must visit list when you travel to Bhutan.

Thimphu in Bhutan - Bhutan tours

Bhutan Travel Highlights

  • The Best Of Bhutan Travel
  • Transportation in Bhutan
  • Culture and Custom in Bhutan
  • Eating & Drinking in Bhutan

Best Time to Visit Bhutan

  • Shopping in Bhutan
  • Highlight Festivals & Events in Bhutan
  • Health & Safety in Bhutan

Bhutan Attractions

The Best of Bhutan Travel

Discover the best of Bhutan with our exclusive Bhutan travel packages offered by "Go Bhutan Tours." If you're curious about Bhutan travel costs, we have you covered with affordable and all-inclusive options. Our meticulously crafted travel packages allow you to explore the enchanting landscapes, immerse yourself in Bhutanese culture, and witness the awe-inspiring beauty of this Himalayan kingdom.

From the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery to the serene prayer halls of Gangte Goemba, our Bhutan travel packages provide an unparalleled opportunity to experience the hidden treasures of this isolated nation. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a culture connoisseur, or an adventure seeker, Bhutan has something for everyone. "Go Bhutan Tours" ensures that your journey to Bhutan is not only memorable but also hassle-free. Explore our offerings, discover the diverse landscapes, and immerse yourself in the magic of Bhutan.

Transporation in Bhutan

Transportation

Go Bhutan Tours uses local transportation alternatives and conventional modes of transportation whenever possible because they typically have less of an impact on the environment, help small local businesses, and are far more enjoyable. The type of excursion you choose while on a Bhutan tour package will determine how you get there. Minibus: Due to the weather, a lack of paved roads, and limited public transportation choices, traveling around Bhutan can be challenging. So plan on taking a minibus while you're not hiking.

Bhutan Culture and Custom

Culture & Custom

Embark on a journey to explore the fascinating culture and customs of Bhutan with "Go Bhutan Tours." Beyond the awe-inspiring Himalayas lies a land where tradition and modernization harmoniously coexist. Bhutan's unique allure has enticed a growing number of travelers since it opened its doors in 1974, welcoming over 200,000 visitors.

The enchantment of Bhutan is evident in its alpine landscapes, mesmerizing Buddhist architecture, and its enigmatic ambiance. It's a place where Gross National Happiness (GNH) takes precedence over GDP, emphasizing the well-being of its people. Bhutan holds the distinction of being the only nation on Earth with a net negative carbon footprint, a testament to its commitment to preserving the environment, influenced by its Buddhist heritage, which makes up nearly 75% of the population.

In Bhutan, the term that resonates most profoundly is "rich." This nation is rich in history, heritage, and customs, offering a wealth of cultural experiences. As Bhutan continues to evolve, there is a delicate balance to be struck between tradition and the rapid advancement of technology, a transition that will be fascinating to witness. Join our Bhutan Tours to delve into the heart of this rich culture and tradition, and explore the customs that make Bhutan truly unique.

eating and drinking in bhutan (1)

Eating & Drinking

The spicy food of Bhutan is renowned for knocking even the most traveler's socks off. If you prefer things spicy, you might just have reached heaven because most of it is garnished with chilies; but, for someone else, it will be pretty warm. Here are some dishes to watch out for a Bhutan vacation:

These cheese sauce-covered, extremely hot chillies are offered. It’s the traditional dish of Bhutan, where ema is the word for "chili" and datshi is the word for "cheese."

Phak sha pa

Red chile, onion, tomato, ginger, and radish slices are used to stew chopped pork.

The Bhutanese consume a lot of wheat, which is often reddish in hue. This is as a result of its cultivation in the rich Paro Valley soil. This one has a nutty taste and is frequently served with chili and mushrooms.

These Tibetan dumplings are typically served as a snack and are filled with meat, cheese, or veggies. Momos should never be refused.

Red Panda beer

The Bumthang Brewery, which is operated by a Swiss citizen who wed a Bhutanese, produces the famous Red Panda Weiss Beer of Bhutan. The sole export brewery in Bhutan is this one. There is a thin white foam on the beer, which has a murky yellow color. Residents and visitors alike adore this excellent beer.

Plan-based options

Vegetarians will have an easy time traveling to Bhutan because the country does not consume a meal of meat. Because cheese is frequently used in meals, vegans may find it more challenging. Make sure to specify that you want your meals cooked without dairy or margarine. Obviously, vacationing with a local makes everything much simpler. With Go Bhutan Tours, you'll get a local guide who can explain meals and suggest healthy plant-based options.

Best time for Bhutan tour and vacation

The most stunning moment to go on a Bhutan tour is the spring periods of mid-March to early May, when rhododendrons and other flowers are in blossom and the temperature has started to warm up, which are often cited as the ideal times to travel. Another great period is in the fall, from September through November, when the sky is predicted to be bright and the hills should be visible. It appears that March/April and September/October are the busiest carnival seasons.

wooden-mask-bhutan-shopping (1)

A Bhutan trip will satisfy your desire for high caliber handicrafts and vibrant art. Despite Bhutan's lack of a reputation as a premier shopping location, there are many skilled artists producing high-quality goods here. To be assured that you can carry particular things back into your place of origin, it is a great idea to verify with your local customs officers. General terms, the laws governing customs are rigorous in the US and Canada.

Hand-Woven Fabric

In Bhutan, artisanal spinning is at its very best. Visit one of the numerous textile shopping options in the towns of Bhutan to select from a wide variety of vibrant rugs, clothes, shawls, and decorations.

Traditional Music

Consider purchasing a CD of singing monks from Bhutan to use as a musical stress relief when you get home and are back in office daily.

Spiritual Souvenirs

For parents and friends, colorful prayer banners, aromatic candles, and rosary beads make thoughtful presents.

Enjoy Bhutan festivals during vacation

Highlight Festivals & Events

Step into the vibrant tapestry of Bhutan's culture with "Go Bhutan Tours" and immerse yourself in the colorful world of Bhutanese festivals and events. Bhutan is not just about its breathtaking landscapes and ancient traditions; it's also a land of joyous celebrations and major events.

Throughout the year, Bhutan hosts a plethora of festivals that offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of this remarkable nation. From the lively Paro Tsechu to the mystical Punakha Drubchen, these festivals are a window into Bhutan's rich religious and cultural heritage. The Tshechus, or religious festivals, are among the major events in Bhutan, and they are celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm.

Let "Go Bhutan Tours" be your gateway to the enchanting world of Bhutan's festivals and events, where the past and present come together in a joyous celebration of culture and heritage.

Health and Safe Vacation in Bhutan

Health & Safety

Go Bhutan Tours makes each precaution to make sure the Bhutan vacations are safe, enjoyable, and fun for everyone. The company takes the health and safety of its visitors carefully. We advise all passengers to get the most recent information prior to boarding from their local government or regional travel guide agency.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bhutan

Bhutan travel FAQs - Bhutan tours

How large is Bhutan?

Bhutan is 38,394 square kilometres. It is comparable in size to Switzerland, with both countries being landlocked and mountainous. Even the houses in Bhutan have a similar shape and appearance to those in Switzerland.

How to get to Bhutan?

Bhutan, a landlocked country, allows entry only by land or air. It has one international airport in Paro, served by two airlines. Bhutan trips promise a transformative experience in the magic of this enchanting kingdom. 

Is Bhutan a safe destination to visit?

Bhutan is a safe destination for travelers when planning a Bhutan tour, with low levels of crime. However, petty crimes can sometimes happen. Therefore, visitors should remain vigilant and take care of themselves and their belongings.

Bhutan Travel Guide & News

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Bhutan Festivals Calendar 2024 & 2025

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Best Bhutan Vacation Packages

bhutan travel 2023

One World Trekking

Bhutan Travel Updates for 2023 Trips

Andy Crisconi November 26, 2022 Himalayan Trekking Tours

Shedding some light on Bhutan’s new pricing policy

As many of you are now aware, Bhutan reopened to the outside world in September 2022. After a 2 ½ year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, tourists are now allowed back to the Dragon Kingdom with no Covid-19 restrictions. This is great news for everyone! Coinciding with the reopening, the Bhutan Government announced a restructuring of its per day pricing policy for incoming tourists. If you thought the old policy was a bit confusing, the new policy will certainly have you scratching your head. Many of you have been in touch asking for some clarity, so I decided to post this blog answering some of your most common questions.

bhutan travel 2023

Ok, here we go…

  • What is this new Bhutan Government fee? The old pricing system was based on a set per person / per day fee which included accommodation, food, guide, transportation and other services required to arrange your trip. The old pricing also included a $65.00 per person / per day Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) payable to the Bhutan government. This SDF has now been increased to $200.00 per person / per day and is in addition to the actual cost of services required to organize and run your trip. All else being equal, it now costs an additional $135.00 per person / per day to visit Bhutan.
  • What is the increased SDF being used for? The SDF collected by the Bhutan government will then be directed back into the local communities to support health and education, which are free to all Bhutanese citizens. Travelers will also benefit from the increased SDF with funds going to improve the standards of hotels and restaurants, develop guide training programs, take further measures to preserve Bhutan’s pristine environment and unique culture and invest in waste management infrastructure. Bhutan’s constitution mandates that 60 percent of the country’s land must be under forest cover and maintains strict laws to protect and uphold its carbon-negative status.
  • What other costs are involved with traveling to Bhutan? As in the past, in addition to the actual cost of your trip is the cost of the Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines flights to and from your originating and Paro, Bhutan. One World Trekking prefers to use the daily schedule on Druk Air originating in Bangkok, Thailand. The approximate roundtrip cost of these flights is currently $1,020.00.
  • How is One World Trekking pricing Bhutan trips for 2023? On our website, you will see that each Bhutan trip will have a tiered price for 1, 2 and a 3+ person group size. We have simply taken our prices before the new policy update and have added the extra $135.00 per person / per day effective price increase. However, there are several factors to take into consideration when pricing trips in Bhutan, such as the size of the group, does anyone require a single supplement, what month you are traveling, are you on a touring trip, trekking trip or combination, level of accommodation being used… Given all these factors potentially impacting your final trip price, you can use our website prices as a guideline of what you can expect to pay. We will then, in conjunction with our local agent, individually quote every trip to make sure you are only paying for the exact services required for us to arrange your trip. Your final per person trip price may be more than the listed website price or it may be less, but it will be an accurate price.
  • Is Bhutan still worth the extra cost? Well, that’s really up to you. The increased cost will certainly mean fewer people will be visiting Bhutan, providing you with a more secluded experience especially if you are trekking. Bhutan’s new policy will cement Bhutan as an “exclusive” destination and allow a renewed focus on sustainability and keeping carbon footprints at a minimum. Bhutan’s goal here is to create high-value experiences for visitors, and well-paying and professional jobs for its citizens. If traveling to Bhutan is on your bucket list and you are going for a once in a lifetime visit then, yes, it is probably worth saving up and planning your trip to this special Himalayan kingdom. Mr. Dorji Dhradhul, current director general of the Tourism Council of Bhutan, believes the extra cost paid by visitors now will ensure the country’s sustainability and safeguard it for future generations.
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219 Bhutan tour packages with 264 reviews

Explore the Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Mountain Hikes Hiking & Trekking Christmas & New Year +3

Explore the Hidden Kingdom of Bhutan

"The week was planned with gradually longer hikes, so that I was prepared on the last day for the amazing experience of the steep Tiger's Nest Trail near Paro." Phil, traveled in May 2023
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Spirit of Bhutan - 8 Days Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Sightseeing Christmas & New Year +2

Spirit of Bhutan - 8 Days

"Explored and learned a lot of things about Bhutan, visited several historical and gorgeous Dzongs." Jen, traveled in March 2016

Best of Bhutan Tour- 7 Days Majestic Bhutan Tour Tour

In-depth Cultural Christmas & New Year +1

Best of Bhutan Tour- 7 Days Majestic Bhutan Tour

"Bhutan is a magical country. It is so unique and I thoroughly enjoyed it." Jim, traveled in February 2024

Druk Path - (PRIVATE TRIP) Tour

Hiking & Trekking Active Family Mountain Hikes +2

Druk Path - (PRIVATE TRIP)

"Superlative in every way. Far exceeded all expectations." PenelopeVasquez, traveled in November 2022

Glimpse of Bhutan 5 nights 6 days Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Christmas & New Year +1

Glimpse of Bhutan 5 nights 6 days

"This trip covered all the main sightseeing place such as Tashichho Dzong, Tiger's Nest Monastry, Dochu-La pass, Punaha Dzong, the palace of Great Happiness and lots of beautiful scenery, which is what drew us to Bhutan initially."

Bhutan In-depth Culture & Nature Tour Tour

In-depth Cultural Family

Bhutan In-depth Culture & Nature Tour

"Everything was so seamless and professional. We have some brilliant memories to take home." Shirleychan, traveled in December 2018

Journeys: Wonders of Bhutan National Geographic Journeys Tour

In-depth Cultural Active Local Living Hiking & Trekking Historical +3

Journeys: Wonders of Bhutan National Geographic Journeys

"Excellent tour in a wonderful country, overall outstanding." Kathryn, traveled in October 2017

Looking for tours beyond just Bhutan?

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Sacred Chomolhari - (PRIVATE TRIP) Tour

Sacred Chomolhari - (PRIVATE TRIP)

"The OneSeed guaranteed the departure, and the friendly staff did everything to make my trip a success." Vic, traveled in November 2016

Spirit of Bhutan Tour

In-depth Cultural Historical

Spirit of Bhutan

Premium Bhutan Tour

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Premium Bhutan

Best of Bhutan Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Explorer Christmas & New Year +2

Best of Bhutan

"I've greatly appreciated all the staff who made my trip so special. I came to Bhutan as a tourist, and I left with so so many friends." Wangmeng, traveled in November 2023

GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF BHUTAN Tour

GOLDEN TRIANGLE OF BHUTAN

"This was an amazing trip. The food was healthy and delicious." Brayden, traveled in April 2019
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7 Days - Bhutan Tour with 4 Days Druk Path Trek Tour

Hiking & Trekking Active Family Camping Mountain Hikes Sightseeing Christmas & New Year +5

7 Days - Bhutan Tour with 4 Days Druk Path Trek

"Wonderful trip to Bhutan. Clear air and beautiful nature. Thx serene team for helping organize my short gateway." Yohana, traveled in August 2019

Bhutan Tibetan Kingdom 5D/4N Tour

Explorer Family Historical Christmas & New Year +1

Bhutan Tibetan Kingdom 5D/4N

"This trip covered all the main sights such as Tiger's Nest Monastery, Tashichho Dzong in Thimphu and lots of beautiful scenery, which is what drew us to Bhutan initially." RachelDavey, traveled in May 2018

Paradise Bhutan Trek Tour

Hiking & Trekking Active Family Mountain Hikes Christmas & New Year +3

Paradise Bhutan Trek

"It's awesome trekking experience!! Guides and Porters are nice and friendly." Chanat, traveled in April 2019

What people love about Bhutan Tours

A wonderful tour covering the highlights of Bhutan. The people were all so friendly, the tour was incredibly organized, and each day was a great mix of cultural activities and education plus outdoor excursions. I would highly recommend this option for people to explore Bhutan
Very well run by the local tour company (Gakyil) . My guide and driver were excellent.(Dev and Tashi) Both had really good knowledge. Tashi my guide gave me a great insight into Budhisim. We also had a lot of fun and many laughs. I highly recommend this tour. Bhutan is a real eye opener. There should be more places like this in this world. Glenn Burnside New Zealand
Bhutan is a magical country. It is so unique and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My tour guide was amazing and took great care of me. The hotels I stayed in were great and so was all of the food. The Tiger’s Nest is a bucket list place to go.

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Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel

"Hotel choices need to be reviewed

Bhutan Acorn Tours & Travel is an expert in:

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Adventure Himalayan Travels

"Very well run by the local tour company (Gakyil) . My guide and driver were excellent.(Dev and Tashi) Both had really good knowledge. Tashi my guide gave me a great insight into Budhisim. We also had a lot of fun and many laughs. I highly recommend this tour. Bhutan is a real eye opener. There should be more places like this in this world. Glenn Burnside New Zealand

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Relax Getaways Pvt. Ltd

"Bhutan is a magical country. It is so unique and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My tour guide was amazing and took great care of me. The hotels I stayed in were great and so was all of the food. The Tiger’s Nest is a bucket list place to go.

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Best Times to Visit Bhutan for the Perfect Vacation

By: Author Amanda OBrien

Posted on Last updated: 16/02/2024

Planning a trip to beautiful Bhutan? I highly recommend visiting this magical Asian country. It offers a fascinating history, beautiful landscapes for trekking, friendly people, charming customs, fantastic boutique hotels and much more.

But what are the best times to visit Bhutan? There is no straightforward answer to this question, as it will depend on your itinerary. This article should provide all the information you need to choose the best time for your perfect visit to Bhutan.

dhumra farm resort view best times to visit bhutan

Best times to visit Bhutan

The best time of year to visit Bhutan will depend on the primary purpose of your trip. If you are traveling to Bhutan because you want to go trekking, then between March and May is the best time to visit. If you don’t want to trek and are interested in exploring Bhutan’s many tourist attractions and want good photos, then plan a trip between November and February.

Let’s break down the year in more detail:

January/February

January is the coldest month of the year in Bhutan and February isn’t too far behind. There may well be snowfall. However, maximum temperatures in Paro are still over 9 degrees in January and 13 degrees in February. Thimpu can reach 12 degrees in January and 14 degrees in February. But it does get cold at night when the temperatures regularly drop below freezing. This is why it is not a good idea to go trekking in Bhutan in the winter.

tigers nest prayer flags

If you’re planning on heading to Eastern Bhutan and visiting cities like Trashigong and Mongar temperatures can reach as high as 20 degrees and won’t drop much below 8 degrees at night.

There are two major advantages to visiting Bhutan in the first two months of the year. The first is the clarity of the air and the light. If you are a passionate photographer, definitely plan on visiting Bhutan in the first or last couple of months of the year.

The second major advantage is the lack of crowds. This is a much quieter time of year to visit and allows visitors to get a better feel for Bhutan’s spiritual side in its temples and fortresses. It is difficult to meditate or take in the aura in some of these sites with large crowds.

One disadvantage of visiting this time of year is that there are none of Bhutan’s famous festivals apart from the birth anniversary of the King at the end of February. However, there are some major national holidays:

January 2 is Nyilo or “the return of the sun”. This marks the winter solstice and this is one of the most auspicious days of the year in Bhutan.

At some point in Jan/Feb (the date changes according to the Gregorian calendar), Bhutan celebrates the Traditional Day of Offering. On the Traditional Day of Offering, special offerings are made to the memory of Ngawang Namgyal, who united Bhutan under one government in the 1600s and who also united Bhutan religiously.

Dancer with Yak

February 21-23 is the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King. This is a three-day celebration and all three days are national public holidays. The current king was born on February 12, 1980. Major festivals and parades are held during this time.

March/April/May

The flowers in Bhutan begin to bloom in March, bringing the beautiful countryside to colorful life. In April, Bhutan’s famous 46 rhododendron species begin to come out. However, this time of year is quite foggy and it can be difficult to see the country’s famous mountains.

This is the best time of year for trekking in Bhutan as the days are long and it isn’t so cold at night. By May, temperatures in Paro and Thimpu will be in the mid-20s.

This is the busiest and most expensive time of year to visit Bhutan.

tigers nest

This is a peak time of year for festivals. Festival Dates change each year, but generally, there can be up to 12 festivals over this time. April is one of the busiest months of the year for festivals in Bhutan. The major festivals of Talo Tshechu, Paro Tsechu and the Rhododendron are usually held in April. Ura Yakchoed is held in May.

The Losar, or Bhutanese New Year, is celebrated between February and March each year. Celebrations and festivals can last up to two weeks; however, the first three days tend to have the biggest events.

May 2 is the birth anniversary of the 3rd Druk Gyalpo, the third King of Bhutan. He is considered the architect of modern Bhutan and is very popular with the people. It is a national holiday. May 2 is also Teacher’s Day in Bhutan, as Gyalpo established the modern education system.

comfort camp dancing

May 11 is Zhabdrung Kuchoe. This event takes place on the 10th day of the third month of the Bhutanese calendar each year and marks the day that Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal passed away at the Punakha Dzong in 1651.

June is hot and foggy and not an ideal time of year to visit Bhutan. There are no major festivals in June. June 14 is Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana. This is the day that the Buddha was conceived, born, subdued evil and gained enlightenment and attained Nirvana. The day is normally marked by visits to temples and monasteries as well as meditation.

The end of June brings the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche. This public holiday celebrates the birth anniversary of Padmasambhava, credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan.

July to Mid September

This is monsoon season and it is not advisable to visit Bhutan during this time. Over three months, half a metre of rain will fall in Thimpu. There are some festivals held during this time.

Mid-September to Mid October

This is the best time to go to Bhutan if you are planning on doing one of Bhutan’s longer treks. However, the views are often not great due to fog and it can still rain in September day and night. The rain in Bhutan tends to stop at the end of September.

October is perhaps the most popular month of the year for festivals in Bhutan. One of the biggest festivals of the year, Thimpu Tshechu, is held in the first half of October. This is also known as the National Festival of Bhutan and was created in 1670 to commemorate the birth of Guru Rinpoche.

Mid-October to Mid November

There will be minimal rain, but there is usually fog. Minimum temperatures are starting to drop, which can make trekking not as pleasant. However, this is a great time of year for festivals. Three of Bhutan’s major festivals may run over this period based on the lunar calendar.

The Royal Highland Festival is one of Bhutan’s newest festivals. It was introduced in 2016 in the Gasa district to celebrate the culture and legacy of the highland communities in Bhutan. It also provides an opportunity for visitors and the people of Bhutan, to visit the region.

comfort camp dancing

Jambay Lhakang Drup is a five-day festival held at one of Bhutan’s oldest temples in Bumthang. The Black Necked Crane Festival celebrates this bird which is native to the Tibetan plateau. It is a one-day festival and has a special costumed crane dance.

Mid-November to the end of December

This is an ideal time to visit Bhutan if you are planning a cultural trip. It will be too cold for trekking, but there will be clear skies. This is a great time of year for photographers. I visited Bhutan at the end of December. I wore a t-shirt during the day, but it was cold at night. This is also when I visited Tiger’s Nest Monastery and had some terrific views.

How to Travel around Bhutan

There is quite a bit of conflicting information online regarding the “rules” around visiting Bhutan. The key reason is that major changes have happened to Bhutan’s tourism policy since Covid. I will try to break down the key points visitors need to know.

tigers nest

In the past, most visitors to Bhutan paid a $USD65 “tourism tax” for each day of their stay in Bhutan. This also covered basic services such as a 3-star hotel. To stay in, say a 5-star hotel, visitors would have to pay to upgrade. Neighboring countries tended to pay a lower tax or none at all. Independent travel was not allowed.

Since covid 19, the Bhutanese Government has introduced a new SDF or sustainable development fee of USD$200 a day. This must be paid by all visitors to Bhutan and does not cover any services eg visitors pay the SDF in addition to all of their other costs, such as accommodation, guides, food etc. The purpose of the new SDF is to fund local programs and prevent over-tourism.

tigers nest prayer wheel first leg

Independent travel to Bhutan is now allowed. However, if you want to visit tourist attractions, go trekking, or explore outside Paro and Thimpu, a guide will be required. Also, the roads in Bhutan are of varying quality and can be very tricky due to the country’s mountainous terrain. I would absolutely recommend having a driver rather than doing your own driving.

A visa and travel insurance are required to visit Bhutan.

I traveled to Bhutan with the wonderful MyBhutan . MyBhutan is run by an American, Matt, who spends a good deal of time in Bhutan and locals staff the company. We had a guide and a driver for our entire stay. As I have already mentioned, I would not want to drive in Bhutan.

MyBhutan put together our itinerary and booked everything. We were able to review the itinerary ahead of the trip and provide feedback for changes, as well as ask questions on everything from the quality of the accommodation to the difficulty of the hikes. I have an allergy to spicy food. MyBhutan ensured that everywhere we ate was aware of my allergy and nothing spicy appeared on my plate.

MyBhutan did cover part of the cost of my trip to Bhutan. However, I only recommend organizations with whom I have worked that offer excellent services at fair prices and I highly recommend using MyBhutan for your trip to Bhutan.

When you book your trip with MyBhutan use the code BOUTIQUE and you’ll receive a free hot stone bath with your booking.

How to Travel to Bhutan

Fewer than ten pilots worldwide are licensed to fly in and out of Paro Airport. There are only two airlines that fly to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines . These airlines operate from Bangkok, Kathmandu and five cities in India (New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Gaya, and Bagdogra). However, if you fly in and out of India, you will need a visa, even if you are only in transit.

MyBhutan can book flights to and from Bhutan for you as part of their service.

Where to Stay in Bhutan

Bhutan spirit sanctuary hotel – paro.

Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary Hotel is the first and only 5-star traditional spa resort in Bhutan. The hotel is laid out in a traditional Bhutanese style. Entering the hotel feels as much like arriving at a high-end monastery as it does a boutique hotel.

spirit sanctuary entrance

Get ready to drop your jaw when you enter the main building and see the two-story floor-to-ceiling windows of the Neyphu Valley. We were also invited to light butter lamps and choose our own locally-made soap for our stay.

spirit sanctuary windows

My room was huge at 54 square meters plus an 8 square meter terrace. The rooms are simply designed with wooden floors, white walls, and wooden beams on the white ceilings. My massive bed was homed in a traditional Bhutanese structure, and I had a living area with a coach, coffee table, armchair, and table with two chairs. A small wardrobe to the side of the room took care of my case.

spirit sanctuary bedroom

The bathroom had two sinks, a deep tub, a walk-in shower and a walk-in toilet. The floors were heated, and bathrobes were provided. In addition to the usual toiletries, Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary provides a toothbrush and toothpaste pills (just add water) for guests.

spirit sanctuary bedroom

All rooms have coffee and tea facilities, including a large range of herbal teas. We also received some wonderful chocolates and a copy of the book, which was part of the inspiration for Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary, The Restful Mind by Gyalwa Dokhampa.

spirit sanctuary bathroom

Dinner was a six-course farm-to-table in the lovely restaurant. We began with a quirky nachos amuse bouche followed by pumpkin soup. Grilled vegetables were next, and then a single ravioli. The dessert was a creamy custard tart. We washed all of this down with some Bhutanese wine, a cabernet sauvignon from Raven.

spirit sanctuary dessert

Breakfast the next morning was just as good. We received homemade pastries, bread, local cheeses and and fruit. A selection of “main” breakfast dishes are then available, from yogurt and granola to pancakes to porridge and more. I enjoyed a cheese and vegetable omelet.

spirit sanctuary terrace

All hotel guests can make use of the spa. The heated indoor swimming pool is huge and has floor-to-ceiling windows. There are two saunas, one steam room, and two jacuzzis. Free yoga and meditation classes are available and there is a fitness center.

spirit sanctuary pool

The spa has six treatment rooms. A consultation with an in-house traditional medicine doctor is included in the room rate for all guests. The doctor can then advise you on the best treatments to suit whatever is ailing you. I had two fantastic massages at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary that worked miracles on my tight neck and shoulders.

spirit sanctuary treatment room

After trekking to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, I tried out a traditional Bhutanese hot stone bath at Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary. These baths are regularly taken by Bhutanese people throughout the year but particularly in the winter. The stones are heated and then placed in a bath to heat them. It is believed that the stones contain valuable minerals that are transferred into the water and then into the guest!

spirit sanctuary hot stone bath

I needed to add some cold water to my hot stone bath before I was brave enough to immerse myself. But wow once I did, it felt amazing!!! I managed to stay in the hot stone bath for only 10 minutes (one hour is recommended). However, the combination of my post-trek hot stone bath and massage meant that my muscles were virtually pain-free the day after the trek to Tiger’s Nest.

Zhiwaling Ascent – Thimpu

Zhiwaling Ascent is located just outside Thimpu near the Royal Takin Preserve. Its design is very simple but beautiful. The hotel makes the most of its beautiful green location with floor-to-ceiling windows on the ground floor, large windows in the rooms and a stunning open-air attic with 360-degree views.

zhiwaling ascent roof top

The rooms are big, open and airy, with polished wooden floorboards and lots of windows. The interior design is very simple, with lots of white with rich embroidered rugs. The room has been designed to focus your eye on the beautiful cypress trees outside with a small table and chairs and a lovely window seat.

zhiwaling ascent bedroom

The rooms also have coffee and tea-making facilities and a big-screen tv. The bathroom is big and lined with small pale grey tiles. There is a large bathtub with a shower.

zhiwaling ascent bathroom

Dinner consisted of four courses which included a choice of mains. We began with lentil soup, followed by a melon salad with watercress, pomegranate, bacon and sherry vinegar. I had the grilled strip loin as my main course with beet puree, potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and beef jus.

zhiwaling ascent salad

The dessert was a banana cake with vanilla ice cream. Zhiwaling Ascent also has a nice wine list with some reasonably priced good quality international wines.

zhiwaling ascent

I enjoyed dinner at Zhiwaling Ascent, but I loved breakfast! We could sit outside and feel like we were eating in a forest. Breakfast began with banana bread, muffin and a croissant with a selection of preserves. We had a choice of four juices as well as coffee or tea. Multiple hot breakfast options were available. I chose the eggs florentine, which I very much enjoyed.

zhiwaling ascent breakfast

There is a second Zhiwaling Ascent hotel in Paro, which is supposed to be fantastic.

Dhumra Farm Resort – Punakha

Get ready for a very windy, very basic road that will make you extra glad you have a driver in Bhutan when you head to the lovely Dhumra Farm Resort. When you arrive, you will see that the road was worth it as the views over Punakha, particularly Punakha Dzong, are breathtaking.

dhumra farm resort

This small resort is run by local people who also own Dhumra farm. Although the website says it is a 3-star hotel, it felt more like a 4-star. My room was very simply decorated but had a wonderful wooden floor and ceiling. There is a lot of wood at Dhumra resort which gives it a slight ski lodge feel. This is softened through colorful rugs.

dhumra farm resort bedroom

My room and its bathroom were both huge. I could have fitted two standard-sized rooms in. The room has many windows, and a window seat, as well as a chair and table, lined up next to one of the windows. Of everywhere I stayed in Bhutan this felt most like staying at someone’s home.

dhumra farm resort dinner

The property itself is beautiful, with small paths and lovely fauna. We had a tasty dinner at Dhumra, all sourced from the farm, and they had wine! A fire pit had been lit for us outside, and we were able to enjoy stunning night views of Punakha Dzong.

dhumra farm resort view 8

The highlight of my stay at Dhumra Farm Resort was breakfast. We couldn’t resist checking out the view first thing and oh my it was spectacular. Just the right amount of fog/cloud to create some ambiance against the beautiful Punakha Dzong. And Dhumra served us a delicious breakfast outside so we could enjoy the view. This was one of the highlights of my visit to Bhutan.

dhumra farm resort breakfast

MyBhutan Comfort Camp

MyBhutan offers a unique glamping experience with its Comfort Camp. The location regularly changes depending on the weather and the itinerary. We experienced our comfort camp not far from Thimpu. Each sleeping tent had its own proper bed and bedside table with electricity and a bedside table and lamp. I could stand in my tent, which is always a key glamping test for me.

comfort camp tents

The comfort camp gave us a chance to experience some different elements of Bhutan. We were able to try out archery and I am delighted to say that I was much better than I expected. This was followed by traditional dancing while we sat by the fire, followed by a Bhutanese whiskey tasting. Dinner was a tasty dish of vegetables and rice.

comfort camp tent

The camp has toilet tents for your convenience but of course no further bathroom facilities. In the morning, we were taken from the comfort camp to Zhiwaling Ascent, where an early check-in had been organized so we could use the shower facilities.

comfort camp archery

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to visit bhutan in the rainy season.

tigers nest leg 2 where we came from

Yes, it is possible to visit Bhutan during the rainy season, which runs from June to September. However, the rain can make some outdoor activities, such as trekking, more difficult. The rain also makes some roads in Bhutan more difficult to access, so it’s important to plan your trip carefully if you are visiting during this time.

What is the weather like in Bhutan during the dry season?

dhumra farm resort view

During the dry season, the weather in Bhutan is generally dry and sunny. The temperature can range from cool to warm, depending on the time of year and the elevation of the area you visit. In lower elevations, the temperature can be quite warm, while in higher elevations, it can be quite cool.

What is the weather like in Bhutan during the rainy season?

comfort camp dancing

During the rainy season, Bhutan experiences monsoon rains, which can sometimes be heavy. The weather can be cloudy and overcast, and there is a higher risk of landslides on the roads. However, the rain can also bring beautiful, lush green landscapes and make for dramatic views.

Can I visit Bhutan during the winter months?

dhumra farm resort fire

Yes, it is possible to visit Bhutan during the winter months, which run from December to February. However, the weather can be quite cold, especially in higher elevations, and some roads and mountain passes may be closed due to snow. If you do visit Bhutan during the winter, it is important to be prepared for cold temperatures and to dress warmly.

You might also enjoy the articles written by my travel buddy Laura on this trip. She has written about how to travel to Bhutan and the 21 top things to do in Bhutan.

IMG 2300 scaled

Amanda O’Brien is the creator and editor of The Boutique Adventurer. She has visited 80 countries and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers as well as the IFTWTA. She is passionate about wine had has just completed Level 3 of the WSET. Born in Australia, she lives in London.

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The Best Bhutan Travel Guide| Everything You Need to Know About Kingdom of Bhutan

Bhutan is one of the most preserved, small yet highly valued countries to travel to. The enigmatic mountains, the colourful festival and the peaceful clean cities create a lot of curiosity for foreign tourists.

As the country has strategically implemented a high-value low impact tourism policy, it has become a country be sought after in many travellers’ bucket lists. Bhutan’s tourism industry is almost worth $4.83 million dollars each month contributing greatly to the employment and revenues of the country.

If you’re looking to explore Bhutan’s stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, you’ve come to the right place! As a seasoned traveller to this beautiful country, I’ve compiled a comprehensive Bhutan travel guide to help you plan your perfect trip. From must-see attractions to hidden gems, I’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!

WHAT IS COVERED IN THIS ARTICLE?

Best time to visit Bhutan .

best-time-to-visit-bhutan

Regional differences in Bhutan

Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas, has distinct regional differences in climate and geography. The southern region of Bhutan experiences a hot and humid subtropical climate with temperatures ranging from 15-30 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

In contrast, the central parts of the country have a cooler and more temperate climate due to their higher elevation. These regional differences also influence the local culture and traditions of the Bhutanese people.

Seasonal differences in Bhutan

Bhutan experiences four distinct seasons throughout the year, each with its own unique characteristics. In addition to these seasonal changes, there are also regional differences that contribute to the country’s diverse climate and landscape.

Weather in Bhutan from October to January is best for visiting as the weather is clear and the roads are perfect for travelling. In the southern parts of Bhutan, you will experience a subtropical climate with sunshine and forests and mountains in the middle part of the country will have cold winter while the mountains in the Northern parts of the country will be covered with thick snow if you travel in the winter.

Plan your itinerary while discussing with your operator to make your visit memorable and hassle-free. If you want to truly discover every aspect of the country, points of attraction, tourist places, activities and the local culture you can plan a month-long visit to this country.

Is it safe to travel to Bhutan?

If you’re wondering whether travelling to Bhutan is safe, the answer is a resounding yes! This small Himalayan kingdom is known for its peaceful and welcoming culture and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. So, whether you’re exploring the stunning natural landscapes or immersing yourself in Bhutanese culture, you can rest assured that you’ll be safe and secure throughout your travels.

What are the requirements for Bhutan Travel?

What-are-the-requirements-for-Bhutan-Travel

Because of Bhutan’s tourism policies citizens of countries other than India , Bangladesh and Maldives require to pre-arrange their tour of a minimum of $250 with a Bhutanese registered travel agency and obtain their hotel bookings and the visa their after.

You can arrange your Bhutan travel only through the tour agencies that are approved tour operators by the Bhutan Tourism Council as listed on their official websites.

You will find different tour operators offering tours based on your interest in culture, nature, adventure and wellness.

What is the Bhutan visa policy ?

Bhutan visas are expensive as most countries have to obtain them after choosing a tour package of a minimum of $250 through a registered tourist agency. However, citizens of Maldives, Bangladesh, and India only have to pay a sustainable Development Fee of around $17. It’s important to plan ahead and budget accordingly for your Bhutan adventure.

Bhutan Visa Requiremen ts:

Here are the documents you will require while applying for a Bhutanese visa :

  • You have to book your stay through a registered Bhutanese agency .
  • You have to book a tour package which has nightly charges of at least $250.
  • Validity of your existing passport for minimum six months.
  • You have to submit the document for proof of your occupation.
  • Provide contact information and address.

Application process : Through a registered travel operator

Cost: $40 just for the visa for each person and $250 per night for the tour

Time Validity : Single-entry with six months validity

Extension: Through your tour operator

SDF: Sustainable Development Fee is abducted from regional

Bhutan Tour Booking Guide

Bhutan Tour Booking Guide

One of the few things you should remember while booking the tour package through your agency is to read the company policies and the refund policies if your visa gets cancelled. As per the tourism council of Bhutan, here are the necessary steps for tour booking in the Bhutan travel guide.

Step 1:  Select the TCB registered tour operator you want to choose from the official website.

Step 2: Plan an itinerary or a tour package with your tour operator.

Step 3: Pay the amount for the tour package in advance along with the $40 for the one-time visa, through the international partners of Bhutan National Bank.

Step-4: The tour operator will complete your visa application and most of the time the visa is issued mostly within 1 week.

Step-5: Receiving the visa once approved through the mail.

Here is the list of Registered Tour Operators

Bhutan travel packages

Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a unique and mystical destination that offers visitors a glimpse into a world unlike any other. If you’re planning a trip from Malaysia , there are a number of travel packages available that can help you make the most of your journey.

From exploring ancient monasteries and temples to trekking through the stunning Himalayan landscapes, these packages offer a range of experiences that are sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Here are some package tours from Viator:

Glimpses of Bhutan – 4 Days Tour

7 Days Western Bhutan Tour

Photography Tour in Thimphu and Dochula Pass

A Journey to the Center of Bhutan

5 Nights 6 days Bhutan Tour

Types of Accommodation in Bhutan

Types-of-Accommodation

When you are choosing your tour package with your choice of tour agency you will have to choose your accommodation or stay. If you arrive through the Paro International airport and create an itinerary where you decide to stay at a hotel in Paro, here are some options for choosing accommodation.

Accommodation for visitors is of a few categories’ hotels, farm-stays, homestays, resorts, and guesthouses.

All the registered tour operators provide foreign tourists with at least 3-star hotels. Bhutan’s government has a preset system to rate hotels based on their service, hospitality and the set guidelines by the government.

Here is a list of the top-rated hotels you can consider to stay:

Zhiwa Ling Hotel (Address: Satsam Chorten, Paro, Bhutan)

Le-Meridian Paro (Address: Paro thimphu hwy, Shaba, 12001, Bhutan)

Gangtey Palace (Address: CCF7+R4J, Paro, Bhutan)

Terma Linka resort & spa (Address: Babesa-Thimphu Expressway, Thimphu 11001, Bhutan)

If you are from visa-free countries travelling to Bhutan, you can choose some of the budget options as most of them are two or three stars.

Foreigners from countries other than India, Bangladesh and Maldives may not be able to choose the budget hotels because of the set amount by TCB in Bhutan travel guide.

Here is a list of the best-rated budget hotels:

Khamsum Inn (Address: Phenday Oudpel Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan)

Zambala Riverview Hotel (Address: Bondey, Paro, Bhutan)

Centennial Hotel (Address: V97H+FXW Lower Market, Phuensum Lam, Phuentsholing, Bhutan)

Hotel Shantideva Bhutan (Address: Norzin Lam 1, Thimphu, Bhutan)

Guest-houses:

Guesthouses are one of the best options if you are looking for a traditional yet cosy environment. Many top-rated guest houses are located across the country which you can discuss with your tour operator. The guest houses are similar in terms of services offered by the hotel.

Farm-stays : Many tourists enjoy experiencing farm stays in Bhutan which will give you the experience of the locals and you can include it in your itinerary. Many farm-stays will ensure your experience of authentic meals, sighting of century-old farming traditional in the mountains.

Types of tours Bhutan Travel Guide

Cultural tour in bhutan:.

Bhutan Travel Guide

If you are planning your trip to Bhutan to understand the culture and heritage of the country you must visit the UNESCO heritage sites in Bhutan like the National Museum of Bhutan in Paro and the National Library , Royal Textile of Bhutan and the Dzongs .

As the primary religion of Bhutan is Buddhism their lifestyle, art,and customs are deeply influenced by Buddist values. Along with pristine rivers, Rocky Mountains you will also visit a lot of monastries, shortens and Ihakhangs in your Bhutan travel guide.

As far as Bhutanese lifestyle and traditions are concerned most Bhutanese love to live simply, worship their deities, enjoying their colourful traditional festivals, Bhutan is one of the countries in the world promoting sustainable tourism and living. The main sources of economy in the country is agriculture, hydropower and forestry.

Most cultural tour packages in Bhutan are planned highlighting Here is an exemplary of 5-day itinerary for Bhutan you can work with for the cultural tour of Bhutan :

Arrival and move to Thimpu : Arrive in Paro and move to the capital Thimpu. In Thimpu, you will visit the Zulekha Nunnery, National Emporium, Thimpu Dzong, the Motithang Takin Preserve.

Sightseeing in Thimpu : Visit the most appreciated tourist places in Thimpu like the Memorial Chorten, National Library, Handicrafts emporium, Institute of traditional medicine.

Thimphu to Punakha via Dochula la : In the drive, through the Dochul La, you will get a scenic view of the Himalayas and visit Wangduephodrung, Mehsina village, Chime Lakhang or Temple of fertility. After reaching Punakha visit the stunning Punakha Dzong in the mountains.

Punakha to Paro : Embark on a journey from Punakha to Paro and discover the vibrant local culture by wandering through the enchanting streets of Paro City.

Paro sightseeing : Visit its most popular heritage and historical sites like Tanpung dzong which is the residency of the Desi Tenzin Ragbye , Rinpun dzong and Nya-Mey Zam bridge.

Adventure tour in Bhutan:

Adventure tour in Bhutan

Activities to do in Bhutan: If you want to enjoy the mountains, rivers at their best and the sheer thrill of adventure sports Bhutan has a lot to offer. Here is the ultimate list of adventure sports to try in Bhutan.

Rock Climbing in the Nose in Thimpu: The climbing route of ” The Nose ” ranges from 12 meters to 27 meters where rock climbing is conducted by Vertical Bhutan Club. It has 13 routes of climbing which you can choose from.

Whitewater rafting in Mo Chuu and Pho Chuu: This is one of the most fun adventure sport anyone can try. If you are a beginner at kayaking and rating in Mochu is advised as the water is calmer with fewer currents. The rafting starts at the bridge that leads to Khansum valley in Punakha and the rafting course stretches about 5.6 miles.

Kayaking in the Wang Chuu and Puna Tsang Chuu : Wang Chuu and Puna Tsang Chuu are two of the rivers in Thimpu that you can enjoy rafting on according to Bhutan Travel Guide. Wang Chuu is one of the tributaries of the Bramhaputra river. Rafting on Wang Chuu also gives you the chance to get the sight of Samteling palace and SAARC buildings.

Trekking and hot springs in Paro: Trekking to the Tiger’s Nest monastery is one of the enthralling activities you must try. There are also other one-day hiking routes such as Bumudra Hike, Chumpu Ney Hike in Paro that you can also attempt.

Paragliding in Kamshet near Ura valley : If you really want to feel the pumps of your heart and try adrenaline-induced paragliding near Kamshet where you will get a glance of the Sahyadri ranges of Himalaya.

Mountain biking: You can try mountain biking near Punakha, where the classic biking route famous among tourists are Khuruthang-Samdiingkha and Punakha etc.

Crossing suspension bridges in Punakha : One of the oldest and historically valued suspension bridges in the world, the Punakha suspension bridge surely should be one on your list. This 160-meter bridge will give you extreme thrill as you cross the bridge and you will see many Buddhist prayer flags.

You may not be able to include all of the above-listed activities in your itinerary but water rafting, rock climbing, crossing suspension bridges are unavoidable if you are a seeker for an adventure. Here are three adventure activities anyone can try if you are not anything scary.

Fishing in Thimpu, Punakha, Bumthang

Archery in villages near Paro

Wildlife Safari at the Royal Manas National Park

Nature Tour and Off-beat places:

As stunning as the country with the bliss of mountains Bhutan has a lot of offbeat and popular places where you can rest your wearing heart. If you are focusing on healing and absorbing the energy of nature while visiting Bhutan here is your Bhutan travel guide tips.

1. Plan your trip including the best places for nature and wildlife.

2. Include hikes with the tour operators to the rugged mountains and trekking in the valleys.

3. Try to get a glimpse of offbeat places like Haa, Phobjika valley, Jangtsa Dhumtseg Lhakhang, the 4. 4. Paro Taktsang to imbibe the memories deep in your heart.

5. Visit the National Handloom Project run by the Bhutanese National Women’s Association.

The ‘ Peaceful country of Dragons ” is surely one of the high-value countries that you can travel to. The picturesque trails, traditional architecture, green environment-friendly lifestyle will surely enthrall you. If you are from South Asia, then Here is a complete Bhutan Travel Guide for South Asians.

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A bhutan travel guide | step by step guides for south asians.

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Everything you need to know about visiting Bhutan

Ryan Smith

For travelers craving unspoiled nature, a less-crowded destination or an escape from life's hustles, Bhutan is an ideal destination. Visiting the Land of the Thunder Dragon isn't a simple or inexpensive trip to arrange, however, thanks to its remote location in the Himalayas.

Still, that complexity more than makes the effort worth it, as it adds to Bhutan's charm. You won't find giant shopping malls overrun with tourists, and you won't encounter heaps of trash, either, as the country banned plastic bags back in 1999.

This way of life is intentional: The country prioritizes "Gross National Happiness" rather than gross domestic product. This means the Last Shangri-La (as it's often called) limits how many tourists can visit annually — and it only opened to foreign tourists in 1974. Bhutan has strict rules in place to preserve its identity and its tranquility, so it can continue to offer idyllic experiences in a relatively untouched setting.

While this approach was easy to maintain during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, when Bhutan decided to fully close its borders to foreigners, after nearly two years, the country started welcoming visitors again Sept. 23, 2022. But with that reopening came an overhauled set of tourism rules.

If you want to have a memorable trip to this picturesque destination, here's everything to keep top of mind when planning a trip to Bhutan, one of TPG's best places to travel in 2023 .

Bhutan's tourism rules

Visitors from Bangladesh and the Maldives don't need permission to visit Bhutan, and Indian citizens only need preapproval from the government to enter. However, citizens from all other countries need a visa and must obtain it before traveling to Bhutan, as there is no option for getting one on arrival.

bhutan travel 2023

Additionally, all foreigners will need to pay a daily sustainable development fee, which subsidizes Bhutan's national health care and education services for citizens and helps with the country's "high value, low volume" approach to tourism . For Indians, this daily fee is 1,200 Bhutanese ngultrum (roughly $14.50). For other nationalities, the fee is now $200 per day for adults, with a 50% discount for children ages 6 to 12 (fees are waived for children 5 and younger).

Before September 2023, the visitor fee was $65 per day, though tourists also were required to book tour packages with government-established prices typically ranging between $200 and $300 per day — a policy that's no longer in place. The removal of this tour package requirement, which included guides, meals and lodging, is welcome news to travelers who prefer to pick services a la carte and those who can use rewards points to cover some costs. It also makes it easier to budget for your trip, as the tour package fee would fluctuate depending on your chosen travel dates, unlike the revised visitor fee, which remains a set price no matter when you plan on visiting.

How to get a visa to visit Bhutan

Aside from the visa exemptions noted above, foreigners will need to pay a $40 visa application fee to visit Bhutan. It's possible to pay for the visa application fee and the daily sustainable development fee online via the Bhutan Department of Immigration website .

To apply for a visa, you'll need to submit a scanned copy of your passport (which needs to be valid for at least six months past your visit to Bhutan), plus a passport photo and proof of travel insurance covering your visit.

After providing your travel details, such as flight and hotel information, and uploading your documents, you'll have two options for payment: bank transfer or credit card. The website does not charge a fee for bank transfers, but your bank may assess a fee for international wire transfers. For payments made with an international credit card, you'll incur a 4.75% fee, though this fee is often less than what banks will charge for international wire transfers. For example, my credit card fee was $20.90, well below the $35 fee my bank would've required had I opted to pay by international wire transfer.

bhutan travel 2023

Payments will report as "general" or "other" on your credit card statement when paying by credit card. Thus, you should use your favorite credit card for everyday spending since you won't earn extra points through bonus categories.

How to get to Bhutan

Although this landlocked country shares borders with India and Tibet, only the border with India permits land crossings at three points: Phuentsholing (in western Bhutan), Gelephu (in central Bhutan) and Samdrup Jongkhar (in eastern Bhutan).

There are no trains in Bhutan, so land crossings are only possible by bus or car. Road permits are required for tour operators, though these aren't needed if you arrive by bus.

Buses are available between Phuentsholing and two cities in India: Kolkata (roughly 18 hours away) and Siliguri (about four hours away). Once you arrive in Phuentsholing, you can then take a bus or taxi to Bhutan's larger cities — but take note of the requirement for guides (covered below) when traveling through these regions.

Arriving by air is also possible. Most tourists get to Bhutan by traveling to Paro International Airport (PBH) near Paro, Bhutan's second-largest city.

bhutan travel 2023

Paro's airport is served by just two airlines: Bhutan Airlines (a private company) and Drukair (the national airline also known as Royal Bhutan Airlines). Both airlines fly between PBH and the following airports:

  • Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) in New Delhi .
  • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU) in Kolkata.
  • Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) in Bangkok .

Drukair also offers domestic connections between PBH and Bathpalathang Airport (BUT) in Jakar, Gelephu Airport (GLU) in Gelephu and Yongphulla Airport (YON) near Trashigang, plus routes to these international airports:

  • Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (DAC) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
  • Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) .
  • Bagdogra International Airport (IXB) in Bagdogra, India.
  • Gaya Airport (GAY) in Gaya, India.
  • Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport (GAU) in Guwahati, India.

Ticket costs range from $110 per person each way for the shortest international flights to $550 per person for flights to Singapore. International airlines are not permitted to fly into Bhutan, which creates complications for award travel. You can't book these flights with your favorite Oneworld or SkyTeam partners, and you won't find these flights through the American Express travel portal or the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal . You must book directly with the airlines.

If you're looking to use points and miles for flights to Bhutan, you have a few options for reimbursing yourself after buying a ticket:

  • You can cash out points for a statement credit .
  • You can redeem points and miles to cover travel purchases at elevated rates (with select Capital One credit cards and Bank of America cards , for example).

Where to stay in Bhutan

While using points and miles for flights to Bhutan is tricky, there are a few solid options for booking award stays at hotels in Bhutan.

If you have World of Hyatt points you're hoping to use for your trip, consider redeeming them for a stay at the Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary near Paro. You can also use a Category 1-7 free night award to bed down at this Small Luxury Hotels of the World property .

bhutan travel 2023

For travelers with Marriott Bonvoy points, there are two Marriott -affiliated properties to choose from as well: Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront and Le Meridien Thimphu. Both hotels are bookable with 35,000-point free night certificates most nights of the year.

bhutan travel 2023

IHG has a few Six Senses properties in Bhutan, too, but unfortunately, none of them can be reserved with IHG One Rewards points. Additionally, stays at these Six Senses outposts in Thimphu, Punakha, Paro, Gangtey and Bumthang do not come with elite benefits if you have status with IHG's loyalty program.

There aren't any options for using points from Hilton Honors , Wyndham Rewards or Best Western Rewards , but you can find hotels in the travel portals for American Express , Capital One , Chase and Citi , making it possible to use credit card points to pay for accommodations.

None of Bhutan's hotels are available with American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts , Amex's The Hotel Collection or Capital One's Premier Collection . One hotel is available in Chase's Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection , but you can't redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for these bookings.

Related: A comparison of luxury hotel programs from credit card issuers: Amex, Chase and Capital One

bhutan travel 2023

To get around this issue of using points for hotel bookings, consider reimbursing yourself for expenses after making your hotel reservation.

The best things to do in Bhutan

Trekking in the mountains is an extremely popular activity in Bhutan, and you'll find a range of trails for all skill levels, all seasons and all budgets.

bhutan travel 2023

If you're interested in experiencing nomadic life and the birthplace of yeti myths, visit Merak village in the far east. This area only opened to tourism in 2012 and is the home of the seminomadic Brokpa people, many of whom have stories of personal encounters with the fabled yeti.

Travelers who want to enjoy nature can find plenty of it in Bhutan thanks, in part, to the government mandating 60% of its land be covered by forests . Head to one of Bhutan's five national parks to take in the stunning scenery.

Phrumsengla National Park, in the center of the country, is a bird-watcher's paradise, while Royal Manas National Park, near the border with India, is home to tigers, elephants, rhinos, leopards and golden langurs. Allot more than one day for wildlife viewing in case you don't spot the critters you wish to see during your first outing.

bhutan travel 2023

The most popular site in Bhutan may be Paro Taktsang (the Tiger's Nest). It was built in 1692 on the site where locals believe Guru Rinpoche (a national hero who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in the eighth century) prayed and meditated for three months before fighting an evil that was afflicting the locals. According to legend, he arrived by flying on a tigress — thus the site's name.

It's possible to visit the Tiger's Nest during a daytrip from Paro or Thimphu, though you'll need to have at least a moderate fitness level to access the site, as it's built into the side of a mountain. The hike starts at a parking lot next to a ticket booth that sits approximately 7,000 feet above sea level, so you may want to wait at least one day after arriving before taking this trip if you're unaccustomed to high altitudes.

The temple is another 1,700 feet up the mountain, and reaching it typically requires two to three hours of walking for most people, plus several hundred stairs.

bhutan travel 2023

Hikers should begin when the ticket booth opens at 8 a.m. to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the afternoon. Guides advise that visitors with moderate fitness ability can return to their hotels for a late lunch, while those who move slower or take many breaks will need longer to see the site and can expect to return to their hotels at dinner time.

Determining whether to hire a guide

Is hiring a guide necessary for visiting Bhutan? In short, no.

Still, Bhutan's Department of Tourism says, "A guide is strongly recommended."

"Guides ... help look after the safety and security of the visitors, as there are wild animals in the countryside, and the altitude and landscape can sometimes pose unique challenges."

Though the Department of Tourism says guides don't need to accompany visitors for activities such as dining at restaurants and shopping, it's "recommended" that guides are employed "for experiences such as visiting temples and local places of interest, and it is mandatory to have a guide for all trekking activities and for any journeys that extend beyond Thimphu and Paro."

And, as mentioned earlier, visitors who enter Bhutan through land borders are required to have guides when leaving the border towns.

"If visitors follow the itineraries or journeys set by hotels," the Department of Tourism adds, "they will not need a guide as they will already have a guide who will be arranged by the hotel."

Based on this guidance, it's possible to visit Thimphu (the capital and largest city) and Paro (near the international airport) without a guide. Hiring a guide is recommended but not required in these areas, meaning you can find your own transportation and travel more independently. Beyond these areas, guides are mandatory.

If you don't hire a guide in Thimphu or Paro, ensure you have the phone number of your hotel with you at all times, as you will need to give this to go inside temples and at passport control when entering Bhutan.

The best time to visit Bhutan

Before September 2022, costs for the sustainable development fee fluctuated. Prices were higher during peak tourist times and lower during the offseason. Thus, traveling during the cold winters could lead to savings.

Now, the visa and sustainable development fee costs are the same throughout the year, meaning there's no longer a financial advantage to braving the Himalayan snowfalls and chilly winters.

bhutan travel 2023

So, when should you visit Bhutan? Here's what to expect for each season in terms of trekking and festivals:

  • Winter: It's possible to hike and trek throughout the year in Bhutan. Plan for low-altitude, shorter treks in winter to avoid snow and unpredictable weather at higher altitudes. Dec. 17 is National Day, which is tied to the coronation of the first king, Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck, in 1907. On Jan. 2, you can attend the Nyilo festival, which celebrates the sun's return and is a traditional day of offering. February sees Losar, Bhutan's Lunar New Year festival, and birthday festivities for Bhutan's current (fifth) king, the Druk Gyalpo, on Feb. 21.
  • Spring: Thanks to the abundant flora and fauna, spring is one of the best times for trekking in Bhutan. However, trails may still be wet from the recent snowmelt. In April or May, Zhabdrung Kuchoe celebrates the life of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, who unified Bhutan. May 2 also is a holiday: the birthday of Bhutan's third king.
  • Summer: This is monsoon season. Treks are difficult and unpredictable but can provide great opportunities for reaching religious landmarks and ceremonies in Bhutan's less-visited regions. Several summer festivals have dates that change yearly based on the lunar calendar, including Lord Buddha's Parinirvana (the date Buddha attained enlightenment).
  • Fall: Autumn is an ideal time for hiking through Bhutan's mountains. Trails begin to dry out and are at their best quality of the year, and the weather is excellent. Clear skies provide breathtaking views of the mountains. Near the end of September, Blessed Rainy Day celebrates the end of the rainy season and the autumn equinox. The Dashain festival in October is the most important holiday for the country's Hindus, as it's when believers celebrate Rama's victory over evil. Nov. 1 is the anniversary of the king's coronation, and Nov. 11 is the birthday of the fourth king. Additionally, Lhabab Duchen, which celebrates Buddha's descent from the heavens to Earth, happens every year in October or November.

Bhutan's many festivals are a highlight but also draw more tourists, making hotel rooms difficult to find. Plan ahead when visiting around these holidays, and be sure to check specific dates, as the dates for many holidays shift annually.

Getting around Bhutan

Unfortunately, tourists can't rent a car or drive in Bhutan. Public transportation is also lacking in many areas, though taxis are available for rides between Paro (including the international airport) and Thimphu (the capital).

bhutan travel 2023

When you combine the transportation issues with the requirement for a guide when traveling beyond Paro and Thimphu, tourists who want to visit Bhutan independently won't have access to large portions of the country.

However, visitors with a guide will have a few options aside from driving. There are guided treks and cycling tours, as well as a limited number of domestic flights and helicopter charters.

The cost of traveling to Bhutan

When planning a trip to Bhutan, you'll need to consider multiple factors: flights, hotels, visas, meals, daily tourist fees, entrance charges for select attractions and tour guide services. Ultimately, though, the amount you spend will depend on how long you stay in the country, with each day costing at least $200 per adult before other details are accounted for.

One-way flights start around $115 per person and can climb to above $500 per person, depending on how far you're flying. While shorter distances lead to cheaper prices, don't forget to factor in the ease and cost of reaching those destinations. It may be easier (and therefore a better option overall) to transit through Bangkok or Singapore instead of Kathmandu or New Delhi.

Remember to look into visas for countries you fly to on the way to or from Bhutan as well, since some destinations require you to clear customs to check in for your next flight. This can add extra costs on top of the $40 visa fee and the $200 daily sustainable development fee Bhutan charges.

As for lodging, cash prices at Bhutan's hotels vary greatly depending on the property you choose. You could pay as little as $15 per night for basic accommodations or more than $1,500 per night at all-inclusive properties providing guests with meals, spa services and activities.

The advantage of booking hotels where meals are included — or where there's an on-site restaurant — is that you won't need to search for places to eat, carry cash to pay for food and arrange transportation to and from dining venues. Factor this into your decisions when budgeting for meals. If you decide to stay at a hotel where food isn't provided, expect to pay anywhere from $3 for fast food to $20 per dish at an upscale restaurant.

Many of Bhutan's monasteries, temples and museums require foreigners to pay admission, so be sure to factor visits to these attractions into your budget as well. You can find the entrance costs for popular sites here . Most entry fees will set you back about $13 per person.

Should you decide to hire a guide, expect to pay approximately $100 for a guided daytrip to regional temples and a hike to the Tiger's Nest; longer guided treks will be more expensive and should be negotiated in advance.

How to pay for trip expenses

It's possible to pay for flights, the sustainable development fee and visa applications online with a credit card. It's also possible to pay by card at larger, tourist-focused hotels — though you may incur a convenience fee for credit card payments.

bhutan travel 2023

However, cash is required to pay entrance fees at attractions, buy food at local restaurants and hire a taxi. If you don't order currency before your trip, you can exchange foreign currency at the airport and most tourist-centric hotels, or withdraw money from an ATM in Paro's airport.

Additional tips for visiting Bhutan

Before you apply for your visa and pay the sustainable development fee, you should confirm your travel plans. That's because your visa will be issued for the exact dates of your trip — the dates you stated as your arrival and departure, backed up by tickets and hotel reservations. It will not be approved without these, and it will be issued only for the days you can prove you are visiting Bhutan.

Once you've decided on your dates, check flight schedules with Bhutan's two airlines for availability based on your proposed itinerary, as seats on flights to and from Bhutan fill up quickly. Some destinations are served multiple times a week (such as Delhi, with six flights per week), while others operate seasonally. After finding flights into, out of and within Bhutan, check these against flights from your home airport. You will need to fly to India, Thailand, Singapore or Nepal before your trip to Bhutan.

After confirming your flights, finalize any plans with a guide (if you're using one) and book your hotels. If you're using a guide for your entire trip, the guide can apply for your visa on your behalf and take a single payment covering everything other than flights, including hotels, meals, activities and the daily sustainable development fee.

Following the submission of all the required documents, you should receive your visa within a week of applying. Ensure the information is correct, then print this document. You'll need to show it when checking in for your flight to Bhutan and at passport control.

Bhutan Tours & Holidays

Man wearing a red cap looking at the view atop of the mountain in Bhutan on a clear sunny day

Bhutan measures its success by Gross National Happiness and by the end of your Intrepid tour, you’ll have contributed more than your fair share of smiles to the cause.

This tiny Himalayan kingdom does things differently. Having only been open to visitors for 45 years, Bhutan puts its environment, culture and wellbeing ahead of economics. This place absorbs more carbon than it creates and a Bhutan tour is perfect for trekkers, nature-lovers and Buddhist pilgrims. From the jaw-dropping Tiger’s Nest to the prayer halls of Gangte Goemba, you’ll experience moments – and people – that make happiness seem like the norm, not a pursuit.

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Bhutan at a glance

Capital city.

Thimphu (population approximately 115,000)

Bhutanese ngultrum (BTN)

(GMT+06:00) Astana, Dhaka

CALLING CODE

Electricity.

Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin) Type M (see D)

Learn more about Bhutan

Culture and customs.

If travellers can tear their eyes away from the backdrop of the mighty Himalaya, they’ll discover a rich, remarkable culture in Bhutan that is quickly modernising yet truly anchored in tradition.

Since opening up to travellers in 1974, Bhutan has seen visitor numbers rise from just a couple of hundred to upwards of 200,000. The appeal is obvious: pristine alpine landscapes, magnificent Buddhist architecture and an air of mystery that pulls travellers in, not to mention the much-discussed Gross National Happiness used to measure national wellbeing, which is prioritised over GDP.

Bhutan is the only country in the world to be carbon negative. Since 2007 the country has been run by a democratic government, with three separate parties having won the three national elections since. Approximately 75 per cent of the population are Buddhist and these religious values are used to guide government policy along with prioritising sustainability and cultural preservation.

In society, the Bhutanese follow ‘driglam namzha’, a traditional etiquette supporting the respect for authority, devotion to family and a dedication to civic duty. The flag, which was adopted in 1965, features the country’s emblem of the Thunder Dragon on a backdrop of golden yellow and orange. The yellow represents the king and his secular power, while the orange represents Buddhism. The dragon holds jewels in each of his claws, representing the wealth of the nation.

And it’s the word ‘wealth’ that perhaps describes Bhutan best. A wealth of tradition, of culture, of history. A wealth of beauty, of happiness, of prosperity. In the future, given the way the country has been progressing, there’ll no doubt be a large amount of wealth brought in by more and more tourists. What will be interesting is how Bhutan manages to balance its age-old traditions with its quickening march towards modernity.

History and government

Early history.

As one of the few countries in the world to have never been conquered or occupied by another, Bhutan has a long history of independent governance. Although its early history is shrouded in mystery, Bhutan is thought to have been inhabited from as early as 2000BC. Tibetan Buddhism was introduced into the region around the 9th century, when many Tibetans fled neighbouring Tibet to seek refuge in Bhutan.

The leadership and governance of Bhutan has always been linked to its religion, and this continues in today’s political, legal and religious leadership of the country. The 16th and 17th centuries saw some conflict with Tibet, although Bhutan was never officially taken over by its neighbour. External threats from the British presented themselves in the 18th and 19th centuries; however, once again Bhutan was never officially controlled or governed by an external power.

Recent history

In the last 40 years, Bhutan has had many ‘firsts’. Bhutan introduced a new monetary system and currency in 1974 and also opened up its borders to welcome foreign tourists in the same year. By 2000, Bhutan had its first television set and internet cafe, and by 2004 Bhutan became the first country in the world to ban the sale of tobacco products. Bhutan’s first constitution was drawn up in 2005, and its first democratic multi-party election was held in 2008, when the constitution was finally ratified. It has held two democratic elections since.

Today, Bhutan’s economy relies mainly on tourism, agriculture and forestry, although ‘Gross National Happiness’ continues to be valued more than economic abundance or growth in domestic product. Bhutan has been held up as an example of what a country can be when it puts culture, the environment and wellbeing ahead of economic development, but there are challenges too: after the new government took control in 2013, the prime minister admitted that the focus on the Gross National Happiness measure sometimes distracted from addressing Bhutan’s problems including unemployment, corruption and poverty.

Eating and drinking

Bhutan is famous for its spicy cuisine that’ll knock the socks off the most hardy traveller. Almost everything is served with chillies, so if you like things spicy, you may just have found heaven – for others it’ll be hotter than hell.

A few dishes to look out for

  • Ema datshi These are very hot chillies served in a cheese sauce. This is Bhutan’s national dish, with ema translating as ‘chilli’ and ‘datshi’ as cheese.
  • Phak sha pa Sliced pork stewed using red chilli, onion, tomato, ginger and sliced radish.
  • Red rice The Bhutanese eat loads of rice and you’ll notice that the rice is usually a reddish colour. This is because it’s grown in the fertile Paro Valley soil. It has a nutty flavour and is typically paired with mushrooms and chilli.
  • Momos These Tibetan dumplings are filled with meat, cheese or vegetables and are generally served up as a snack. Never say to no-no to a Momo.
  • Red Panda beer The Red Panda Brewery, which is Bhutan’s first, was started by a man named Fritz Maurer who came to Bhutan from Switzerland after answering a newspaper ad for a qualified cheesemaker. Not only does he make Swiss cheese, he also produces this hefeweizen beer.

Plant-based options

Vegetarians will find travelling through Bhutan easy as meat does not play a huge part in the Bhutanese diet. Vegans may have a more difficult time as dishes will often come with cheese. Be sure to ask that your dish is prepared without butter or cheese.

Of course, this is all a lot easier when you’re travelling with a local. If you travel with Intrepid, you’ll have a local leader who can help you decipher menus and recommend good plant-based choices. 

Geography and environment

This landlocked kingdom may occupy a small space on the world globe but there’s nothing small about the mountains that lie within. Sharing borders with China and India, Bhutan is known as 'The Switzerland of Asia' for its mountainous topography and similarity to Swiss landscapes.

Bhutan has largely resisted overdevelopment, which has left much of its natural environment intact. As a result of this, Bhutan is one of the most species-rich countries in the world – with hundreds of species of mammals, birds and plants calling the Bhutanese valleys, mountains and meadows home. Endangered red pandas and snow leopards can be found in Bhutan as well as a huge variety of wild flowers and birds.

The country can be divided into three areas. In the south, you’ll find the lowlands fronting the Indian border, which enjoy a subtropical climate. This region sees monsoonal rains from June to mid-October and mild winters through December, January and February.

Travel north and the climate becomes progressively colder as the Himalaya rise. The central belt of the country, in the lower foothills of the Himalaya, features cold, dry winters and warm summers with monsoonal rains on the southern sides, while the valleys experience less rainfall thanks to the mountains’ protection.

 In the northern regions, as the Himalaya rise above 2500 metres (8202 feet), the winters are cold and while the summer can be warm, the valleys are generally protected against monsoonal rain. The temperatures turn freezing as you reach the China-Tibet border, with the mountains rising to a high point at Gangkhar Puensum (7570 m/24,480 ft) – the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.

If you’re after top quality handicrafts and colourful art, then Bhutan will delight. While Bhutan isn’t known as a top shopping destination, there are many talented artisans creating good quality souvenirs to buy here.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

  • Hand-woven fabric Traditional weaving is at its very best in Bhutan. Choose from colourful rugs, clothing, blankets and accessories when visiting one of the many textile stores and boutiques in Bhutan’s cities.
  • Traditional music Why not pick up a CD of Bhutanese harmonies, or chanting monks, as a melodic stress-buster for when you’re back at home and in work mode.
  • Spiritual souvenirs Vibrant prayer flags, fragrant incense and prayer beads make meaningful gifts for friends and family back home.

Festival and events

Bhutan's festival calendar is packed with colourful occassions filled with celebrations and dancing.

Paro Spring Festival (Paro Tshechu)

The people of Paro welcome the start of spring with five days of cultural and spiritual celebration. Locals shake off the winter blues by indulging in sword dancing, drumming and feasting. Expect to see stirring rituals, colourful clothing and touching displays of faith if you’re lucky enough to travel during this time.

Thimphu Festival (Thimphu Tschechu)

This three-day festival is meant to be highly auspicious to all who attend. Bhutanese people travel from all over to attend this spiritual celebration that features prayers and rituals to invoke the gods as well as traditional dance, costume and theatre. This highly joyous time gives travellers an important insight into Bhutan’s culture and the chance to mingle with locals.

Public holidays that may impact travel include:

Winter Solstice

Traditional Day of Offerings

Birthday of His Majesty the 5th King

Birthday of Third Druk Gyalpo

Buddha’s Parinirvana*

Birthday Anniversary of Guru Rinpoche

Buddha’s First Sermon

Blessed Rainy Day

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel’s Coronation

Descending Day of Lord Buddha

Birth Anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo/Constitution Day

National Day

*Please note dates of Bhutan's public holidays may vary.

Further reading

For inspiring stories to prepare you for your Bhutan adventure, check out these books:

  • Buttertea at Sunrise: a Year in the Bhutan Himalaya  – Britta Das
  • Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: a Portrait of Bhutan  – Ashi Dori Wangmo
  • The Heart of the Buddha  – Elsie Sze
  • Beyond the Sky and Earth  – Jamie Zeppa
  • The Blessing of Bhutan  – Russ Carpenter
  • The Divine Madman: the Sublime Life and Songs of Drukpa Kunley  – Translated by Keith Dowman
  • Seeing with the Third Eye: Growing up with Angay in Rural Bhutan  – T. Sangay Wangchuk

Bhutan travel FAQs

Do i need a covid-19 vaccine to join an intrepid trip.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

When is the best time to visit Bhutan?

Bhutan experiences monsoonal weather between June and August and consequently is not a particularly pleasant time to visit the country.

The best times to visit are the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November, with the later months being particularly pleasant as rainfall is lower and the views tend to be clearer.

December to February sees snowfall in many areas but it can be a beautiful time to visit thanks to the snow covering the mountainous landscape.

Is it safe to visit Bhutan?

Yes, it is safe to visit Bhutan. The crime rate in Bhutan is low although petty crime does happen. Travellers should be alert and keep an eye on their belongings, particularly in crowded or well-touristed areas.

If you are visiting high-altitude areas be sure to discuss altitude sickness with a doctor and plan accordingly. Flooding and landslides occur during the monsoon period (June–September) so follow local advice and check with your tour operator for disruptions.

Do I need a visa to travel to Bhutan?

All nationalities require a visa for Bhutan and, at this stage, travellers can only enter as part of a group visa on a tour. Independent visas are not issued and the cost of the visa is included in your tour. If you are travelling with Intrepid, please provide your booking agent with the following information for us to apply for your group visa:

  • a scanned colour copy of the photo page of your passport (consisting of both the flip pages)
  • full name as per passport
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • passport number & date of issue/expiry,
  • email address you will access while travelling
  • arrival and departure flight details

Due to the controlled nature of travel in Bhutan the group visa can only be submitted once we have the above details from ALL travellers in the group. Failure to advise any of the information as above can slow the visa issuing process and delay the visa for the whole group.

Visas are generally issued within 5 days of departure and as close as 48 hours prior to travel into the country. We will send your group visa to your travelling email address. Please print this visa and carry with you as you will need it at the time of boarding your Bhutan flight.

You must show the copy of your Bhutan group visa at the check-in for your flight to Bhutan and on arrival at immigration in Bhutan where you will have a Bhutan entry stamp placed into your passport.

Is tipping customary in Bhutan?

Tipping isn’t compulsory in Bhutan, but many people who work in tourism are accustomed to receiving tips so it's wise to set aside a small amount to show your appreciation for drivers, cooks and other service workers. Most hotels and restaurants will include a service fee in the final bill.

Your local leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty on the first day of your trip. In a group tipping kitty, everybody contributes an equal amount at the start of the tour that your leader uses to tip drivers, local guides and hotel staff on your behalf. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent, which can be checked at any time. Any money remaining at the end of the tour is returned to group members.

This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassle of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is optional, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.

What is the internet access like in Bhutan?

Most tourist hotels will have free wifi, as will many restaurants or cafes in Bhutan’s larger cities. It’s possible to buy a local SIM though internet access will be limited in the remote and mountainous regions.

Can I use my mobile phone while in Bhutan?

If you plan on using your mobile phone in Bhutan be sure to activate global roaming and check charges with your provider before you leave home. If your phone is unlocked, you can purchase a local SIM on arrival. The best coverage is with B-Mobile, while Tashi Cell has similar costs but more limited coverage. Please note that coverage will be limited in more remote areas.

What are the toilets like in Bhutan?

You will have to adjust to different standards of hygiene and sanitation while in Bhutan. Squat toilets are the norm across the country, which may take some getting used to, though Western-style, flushable toilets can be found in large hotels and some tourist areas.

Can I drink the water in Bhutan?

Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Bhutan. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water and fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.

Are credit cards widely accepted in Bhutan?

Credit cards are accepted are large hotels and the bigger stores but a heavy surcharge often applies. Keep in mind that tours in Bhutan are fully prepaid and include all meals and transport, so your only spending money should be for souvenirs, snacks and drinks. It’s best to bring and use US dollars for large purchases.

What is ATM access like in Bhutan?

There are ATMs available in Bhutan’s larger cities though they won’t accept some foreign cards. If you are travelling outside of the main cities be sure to carry cash to cover small purchases.

What is the weather like in Bhutan?

Bhutan’s weather varies depending on your location and the time of year.

In the capital, Thimphu, the temperature averages from 5°C (41°F) in January to 20°C (68°F) in the summertime. This summer period, from June–August, also sees the monsoonal rains arrive. The nearby city of Paro experiences a similar climate.

The city of Punakha, which is located at 1300 metres (4250 feet), has a warmer climate than Thimphu. The average temperature ranges from 11°C (75°F) in winter to 24°C (75°F) in the summertime. Because of the mountainous terrain, the rains here generally affect the southern side while the valleys experience less intense rainfall.

Is Bhutan safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

Bhutan, like most Asian countries, is not particularly appreciative of public displays of affection regardless of sexual orientation.

Homosexuality has been illegal in Bhutan since 2004, but in 2019 a bill was passed to decriminalise what was known as ‘unnatural sex’.

LGBTQIA+ people are generally accepted in Bhutan but work still needs to be done to change social attitudes towards those that identify differently.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting  Equaldex  or  ILGA  before you travel.

If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.

Is Bhutan accessible for travellers with disabilities?

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Travelling through Bhutan is difficult for those with physical disabilities. There are only a few hotels that have accessible rooms and bathrooms, and it’s rare that buildings will have been adapted for accessibility issues. That said, all travel through Bhutan must be done through a tour group so if you’re interested in travelling there then Intrepid will do all it can to make that dream a reality

As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.

What to wear in Bhutan

During winter, if travelling to high altitude areas, you’ll need cold-weather gear, thermals, good waterproof boots and a warm/windproof jacket. If you’re not taking on an alpine trek, however, warm clothes are necessary for the evening but a fleece and windbreaker should suffice during the day.

In the summertime, lightweight clothing is best along with a raincoat, as well as a jumper for the evening. You may add warmer clothes if heading into the higher reaches of the Himalaya, including a beanie, gloves, scarf and down jacket.

For ideas on what to pack for your Bhutan tour, take a look at Intrepid’s   ultimate packing list .

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before travelling?

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

How do I stay safe and healthy while travelling?

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: Smart Traveller

From Canada?

Go to:  Canada Travel Information

From the UK?

Go to:  UK Foreign Travel Advice

From New Zealand?

Go to:  Safe Travel

From the US?

Go to:  US Department of State

The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information.

Does my trip support The Intrepid Foundation?

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. Trips to this country directly support our global Intrepid Foundation partners Eden Reforestation Projects and World Bicycle Relief. Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

Eden Reforestation Projects

Eden Reforestation Projects are helping to mitigate climate change by restoring forests worldwide; they also hire locally and create job opportunities within vulnerable communities. Donations from our trips support restoration across planting sites in 10 countries around the globe. Find out more or make a donation World Bicycle Relief

World Bicycle Relief provides people in low-income communities with bicycles to mobilise school kids, health workers, and farmers in far-out areas – giving them access to vital education, healthcare, and income. Donations help provide Buffalo Bicycles – specifically designed to withstand the rugged terrain and harsh environment of rural regions – to those who need them most. Find out more or make a donation

Tashichho Dzong in spring in Thimphu, Bhutan

How much does it cost to travel to Bhutan in 2024?

From September 2022, travelling to Bhutan involves a daily visa fee of US$200. You also need about $100 a day for food and accommodation if you go budget, or above $200 a day to do it in more style. But read on for more detail and costs like entrance fees.

The trip budget. A core component to every travel planning exercise. If you wish to travel to the Land of the Thunder Dragons, you naturally want to know: how much does it cost to travel there?

Travelling to Bhutan is relatively expensive, because Bhutan is very preoccupied with sustainable tourism. They call this approach 'high value, low impact' tourism.

'High value, low impact' tourism

We’re going to go out on a limb and say that you want to travel to Bhutan because you’ve heard about its pristine mountain environment and unique culture. Are we right?

Well, one of the core reasons for the integrity of the nation’s natural and cultural heritage is that the Bhutanese have been very clever about how they implement tourism. 

The Government of Bhutan has opted for a ‘high value, low impact' tourism policy that limits the number of visitors that can enter the country at any given time.

This policy has protected Bhutan against the worst effects of mass tourism, like trampled nature and disrupted ecosystems. Also, by keeping tourist numbers down, Bhutan has been able to retain its character and so remain the holiday jewel we all know it to be.

Follow-Alice-to-Bhutan-5-1024x683.jpg

Bhutan's high value, low impact tourism policy has helped the country retain its character and pristine environment

Bhutan visa 

One of the key methods of implementing the policy of high value, low impact tourism is the daily visa every tourist must purchase while in Bhutan. 

Since September 2022, when Bhutan reopened its borders to tourists after a long coronavirus-related closure, the daily visa fee is 200 USD per person per night in the country. Indian nationals are exempt from this fee.

Lhuentse, Bhutan

It's not cheap to visit Bhutan, but it's money very well spent!

A changed tourist visa system

For those familiar with the pre-2022 tourist visa fee system, please note that your visa fee will NO LONGER cover any of your expenses while in Bhutan.

As we discuss in A tourist visa for Bhutan now costs more (2022 update) , the entirety of the new daily visa fee is to be used for sustainable development. The aim here is to use the money from tourists' visas to help the Bhutanese Government look after its people, environment and economy.

The daily tourist fee levied by the Government of Bhutan no longer covers any of your accommodation, meals, transport, and so on. The daily visa fee is now purely a sustainable development fee.

So this is a very important change to note. In one sense, the most notable takeaway for you, as a potential tourist, is that a holiday in Bhutan will now cost you more. Though again, as mentioned above, Indian nationals aren't required to pay this sustainable development fee.

How do I obtain a Bhutan visa?

The easiest way to obtain a Bhutan tourist visa is through a registered tour operator, as the company will obtain your visa on your behalf. If travelling independently, ask your travel agent to secure you a visa.  Note that there is a visa application fee of 40 USD per person.

Please note that you must secure a visa before entering Bhutan.

Note that you must obtain a Bhutan visa before you'll be allowed to fly into the country. You’ll receive a visa clearance letter that you present at immigration when you land at Paro International Airport.

A tour guide

There has been some confusion of late as to whether or not you can now travel in Bhutan without a tour guide. As of September 2023, you do need to have a tour guide to be allowed to travel within Bhutan.

Bridge Bhutan - Bhutan cost

A local tour guide is still compulsory on a Bhutan holiday

At Follow Alice, we believe that using local guides is a really good thing. Firstly, it's important that tourists' money create jobs for locals. (Long live sustainable tourism. 💪🏾) And secondly, a tour guide offers many benefits to the traveller, such as:

  • Keeping you safe.
  • Keeping you safe from offensive faux pas.
  • Being someone local whom you get to know well and have meaningful conversations with.
  • Removing any possible stresses to do with admin and navigation.
  • Translating things for you and facilitating engagements with other locals.
  • Ensuring you don't miss out on special places and lesser-known experiences! 

We discuss the many ways tour guides are a blessing in 12 reasons why good tour guides are so important .

Passang and FA clients Bhutan Tiger-s Nest

Passang, seen here taking the group pic, is a Bhutanese tour guide

Tour guide prices vary. If you travel with a tour operator, the tour guide's fee will be included in your package fee. So you likely won't know what precise sum goes to the local guide unless you ask for a price breakdown.

Note that the minimum monthly wage in Bhutan is just under 50 USD (or 3,750 Bhutanese ngultrum – BTN). The Bhutanese Government is pretty good in terms of providing oversight to ensure employees of the tourism sector are being properly looked after. So you shouldn't come across any tour companies that are being dodgy around the compensation of their guides.

Accommodation

Accommodation is one of the biggest items in any holiday budget. So this is a figure you want to calculate as accurately as possible.

Twin bedroom, 3-star hotel, Paro hotel, Bhutan accommodation

Example of a simple, 3-star hotel bedroom in Paro

There are many three-, four- and five-star establishments in the country, and prices can vary wildly from one to the next within the same rating. For instance ...

  • A standard double room in a 3-star hotel in the city of Thimphu in November (peak season) can cost anywhere from around 40-80 USD (taxes and fees included).
  • A standard double room in a 4-star hotel in the city of Thimphu at the same time of year generally costs anywhere from 90 to 250 USD (taxes and fees included). That's a huge range!
  • As to a five-star hotel ... well, if you're looking into that, you're probably not going to be reading a blog post about costs. 😉

So really, there's a wide range of accommodation in terms of both smartness and cost. Of course you should also look for specials and discounts, as these can make all the difference.

Namgay Heritage Hotel, Thimphu, Bhutan

The gorgeous entrance to Namgay Heritage Hotel in Thimphu

Finally, note that if you head to less-visited parts of the country, like the east and south, you can expect cheaper accommodation there.

If you go on a multiday trek like the Laya trek or Jomolhari trek , your accommodation (tents) will be included in your trekking package fee (which will also likely include meals, a cook, a porter, and your trek guide).

Food and drink

Here are the prices of some basic items and meals in Thimphu to help you plan your budget:

The restaurant at Terma inca Resort and Spa in Thimphu

The restaurant at Terma Linca Resort & Spa in Thimphu

A vehicle and driver

The best and easiest way to get around Bhutan outside of the cities and towns is by car. Bhutan has no trains. There are very few internal flights. And while public buses are available in certain districts, they're generally overcrowded and uncomfortable.

It used to be that a vehicle, petrol (fuel) and the services of a driver were part and parcel of the Bhutan daily visa. Now, however, hiring a car will be an added expense. And if you want a driver, that will be a further expense too.

While you can drive yourself in Bhutan (provided you have a valid driver's licence), there's a lot of value to hiring the services of a driver if you can. Most obviously, you can simply say where you'd like to go and be taken there, instead of trying to read a map or using your GPS (and then bickering over who is to blame when you land up in a cul de sac in a misty forest). 

Entrance fees

You can expect to pay an entrance fee to visit museums, monasteries, palaces, memorials and other such sites in Bhutan. If you wish to attend a Bhutanese tschechu (festival) – and if you're smart, you wish to indeed! – you'll also need to pay an admittance fee.

As of July 2022, most sacred sites now carry an entrance fee of 1,000 BTN (~12.50 USD) per person . These sacred sites include the country's many dzongs (fortress temples) as well as the famous Buddha Dordenma in Thimphu.

Taktsang (or Tiger's Nest Monastery) – Bhutan's most famous dzong – is an exception to the rule, costing 2,000 BTN (~25 USD) per person.

Tiger's Nest Bhutan

Bhutan's iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery

If you visit Bhutan with a tour operator, your tour guide will organise and pay for entrance fees on your behalf.

Finally, note that there are now six days in the year (national holidays) when many popular tourist sites will be closed to foreigners. This is because locals will be visiting in large numbers for celebrations. These dates are determined each year by the lunar calendar. So it's best to speak with your tour operator ahead of time to see if your visit will coincide with any such closures for tourists.

Adventure activities

As you can see in our Bhutan itineraries , this is a country designed for adventure!

You can go for a multiday trek in the Himalayas , or keep it smaller by opting to go:

  • white-water rafting (there are Class II to V rapids)
  • mountain biking

White-water rating near Punakha Dzong fortress in Bhutan

Rafting on the Mo River in Punakha

You can hire a quality mountain bike for the day for around 35 USD. For a rafting trip on the Mo, Po or Manas Rivers, you're looking at 250 USD per raft (which can take up to six people).

Please do note that prices for services in Bhutan are likely to change over the coming year or so in light of the overhaul currently taking place within the tourism industry.

Travel insurance

Something you’ll need to sort out yourself is your travel insurance.

Travel insurance is an absolute must whenever travelling outside your own country. If you travel with Follow Alice, it’s a compulsory purchase. Be sure to factor this important item into your Bhutan travel budget. 

When taking out travel insurance, we advise choosing one that offers cover for all of the following:

  • Delayed, cancelled or interrupted travel.
  • Medical insurance.
  • Lost or damaged luggage.

We give a few details about each item below ...

Delayed, cancelled or interrupted travel

Delayed travel covers things outside of your control like a traffic jam preventing you from reaching the airport on time, a mechanical issue with your plane, or severe weather preventing the plane from reaching its destination. Given bad weather is a part of the Himalaya vibe, this is an important aspect to cover. Delayed travel also covers missed connections that are out of your control.

Trip cancellation covers having to abort your trip beforehand for reasons such as injury, illness, severe weather, or a natural disaster or terrorist attack at your destination.

Trip interruption covers the costs involved when you have to abort your trip post departure, for any of the same reasons listed for trip cancellation. Both trip cancellation and trip interruption should also cover having to cancel or abort a trip as a consequence of illness or injury of a travel companion or family member. 

Medical insurance

Regular medical aids don’t cover medical expenses incurred outside of your own country. This is why medical insurance is a critical component of any traveller’s insurance. Proper medical insurance covers medical emergencies as well as medical evacuation. This means that should you fall ill or be injured, your insurance will pay for all hospitalisation and doctor fees as well as all transportation to and from hospital (including ambulance services) and to get you back home.

Lost or damaged luggage

The cover for lost or damaged luggage is important. Should your luggage go missing en route to Bhutan, you could use the insurance money to gather together what’s needed in Paro. You can then continue on with your trip without having to wear the same smelly pair of socks every day.

Recommended cover

We recommend that you cover yourself to the tune of at least 200,000 USD for each of the above categories of insurance (save luggage).

Most of us at Follow Alice, as well as many of our clients, opt to buy travel insurance from World Nomads. We would, however, recommend that you also do your own research into finding a company that you feel offers comprehensive yet affordable insurance.

Whichever travel insurance you choose, we’ll require you to send us the details of your policy before your arrival in Bhutan.

Note that many credit cards offer free, automatic travel insurance when you book your flights with them, so do look into this. The cover usually isn’t enough on its own, but it’s a useful extra. Also, pay special attention to exactly what is and isn’t covered by your credit card. This is to ensure your independent traveller’s insurance covers all gaps and shortfalls.

Bhutan dzong with white flags

We don't ever advise exploring a new country without comprehensive travel insurance

We can recommend World Nomads as a reputable travel insurance company you might like to research. They offer coverage for more than 150 adventure activities, including high-altitude trekking.

Tipping isn’t compulsory in Bhutan, though it's appreciated.

If you go with a tour guide and driver, please budget for tipping them at the end. If you're happy with the service received, then 10 USD per day for your tour guide is a good figure, and we recommend 6 USD per day for your driver.

If you go trekking in Bhutan, then tipping your support staff (like your guide, cook and porter/horseman) is also an appreciated gesture. Around 8 to 10 USD for your guide per day is a good rule of thumb if you decide to budget for tipping. Consider 5 to 8 USD per day for your other support staff.

Consider bringing along a little extra cash to buy souvenirs and other local items. The Bhutanese are renowned for their beautiful handwoven textiles, for instance, and you might wish to pad your luggage with a gorgeous silk wrap or stylish gho (long robe). 

bhutan festival - bhutan cost

The Bhutanese make gorgeous, high-quality handwoven textiles

Bhutan currency

The currency in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN). It’s set to trade at the same value as the Indian rupee. As of August 2023, 1 USD buys you around 83 BTN, and €1 buys you around 91 BTN. 

In Bhutan, the currency is the Bhutanese Ngultrum.

Should you want to draw cash while in Bhutan, you’ll find ATMs in all of the major towns.

SIM cards and eSIM accounts

The cheapest way to stay connected while in Bhutan is to buy a local SIM card or buy a data package through an eSIM app.

You can purchase a special, short validity traditional tourist SIM card when you land in Paro for 200 BTN. Just note that you’ll need to fill in a form and the seller will want to photocopy your passport photo. Your tour guide will help you with this if you have one and would like assistance. You can then buy 1 GB of data for as little as 150 BTN (that's less than 1 USD or 1 euro).

Ours. S. Nyele La 4,830 m. Jigme Dorji National Park. Bhutan

Don't expect the same level of cell service throughout Bhutan!

A more expensive option (though still far cheaper than using roaming) is to use an eSIM . This is a virtual SIM card that you can acquire before heading off on your trip and doesn't require a registration process within the visited country.

If you're unfamiliar with how eSIMs work and wish to know more, please read Why you should use an eSIM on your next trip instead of buying a SIM card .

eSIM costs vary depending on the provider you choose. But with Airalo, for instance, which is the current world leader in eSIM services, you can expect to pay around 5 USD for 1 GB of data for a week.

So ... ready to plan a Bhutan adventure? 

We can help! Take a look at our suggested Discover Bhutan itinerary . And please feel free to contact us to ask any questions you might have – we’re here to help!

  • Paro valley
  • Thimphu, the capital city
  • Punakha Valley
  • Wangdue Phodrang Valley
  • Trongsa Valley
  • Bumthang Valley
  • Lhuentse/Mongar/Trashigang (Eastern Bhutan)
  • Phuentsholing, the Gateway to Bhutan
  • Bhutan Tour 4 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 5 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 6 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 7 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 8 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 9 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 10 Days
  • Bhutan Tour 11 days
  • Bhutan Tour 12 Days
  • Nimalung kurjey Festival (14th – 16th June 2024)
  • Haa Summer Festival (14th – 15th July 2024)
  • Thimphu Tshechu Festival (13th – 15th Sept 2024)
  • Gangtey Festival (16th – 18th Sept 2024)
  • Chhukha Tshechu Festival (9th – 11th Nov 2024)
  • Jakar Tshechu Festival (10th – 12th Nov 2024)
  • Black Necked Crane Festival (11th Nov 2024)
  • Jambay Lhakhang Festival (15th – 18th Nov 2024)
  • Druk Wangyel Tshechu Festival (13 Dec 2024)
  • Nalakhar Tshechu Festival (15th – 17th Dec 2024)
  • Punakha Tshechu Festival (9th – 11th March 2025)
  • Paro Tshechu Festival (8th – 12th April 2025)
  • Rhododendron Festival (22nd – 24th April 2025)
  • Ura Yakchoe Festival (9th – 13th May 2025)
  • Bumdra Trek ( 2 Days )
  • Tshaluna Trek ( 4 Days )
  • Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek ( 5 days )
  • Druk Path Trek ( 5 Days )
  • Jomolhari Base Camp Trek (7 Days )
  • Jomolhari Round Trek ( 8 Days )
  • Laya Gasa Trek ( 12 Days )
  • Snowman Trek ( 24 Days )
  • Booking Bhutan tour/Cancellation Policy
  • The best time to visit Bhutan 2024 / 2025
  • Flights to Bhutan | Fares & schedules.
  • Bhutan Travel Cost 2024 / 2025
  • Tourist Visa for Bhutan
  • Luxury Hotels in Bhutan (5 Star Hotels & Resorts).
  • FAQs for Bhutan Trip:

Bhutan travel cost 2024 / 2025

The Bhutan travel cost 2024 / 2025 for international tourists visiting Bhutan includes sustainable development fee (SDF) / Government tax of US $ 100 per person per night stay in Bhutan (Except for Indian nationals). This applies to all individuals above the age of 12 years. 

Discounts on sustainable development fee (SDF):

  • There shall be no charge for the children up to the age of 5 years.
  • The children between 6 to 11 years accompanied by guardians shall be given 50 % discount.

Bhutan visa fee is US $ 40 per person per trip. The visa fee extension cost is US $ 40.

The above sustainable development fee (SDF) is not included in the package tour / trek cost given below:

Package tour cost:

  • Solo travelers: US $ 245 per night stay in Bhutan.
  • 2 pax in a group: US $ 190 per person per night stay in Bhutan.
  • 3 pax and above: US $ 180 per person per night stay in Bhutan.

Our package tour cost covers the following:

  • Accommodation in 3 star hotels approved and certified by the government as “clean & safe” for international tourists.
  • All 3 meals a day and tea/ coffee.
  • Guide services.
  • Bottled water during the entire trip.
  • Transport within Bhutan including airport transfers.

Package trek cost:

  • Solo trekker: US $ 350 per night on trek.
  • 2 pax in a group: US $ 260 per person per night.
  • 3 pax and above: US $ 225 per person per night.

Trek cost covers the following:

  • Services of trekking guide, cook and helpers.
  • Yaks / ponies to carry the supplies.
  • Sleeping tents, mess tent, kitchen tent, toilet tents etc.
  • Sleeping mats.
  • 3 meals a day.

Please note that you have to bring your own sleeping bags.

Nature of tour / trek: Private trip.

The above cost does not cover:

  • Entry fees for museums / monuments & festival visits.
  • Travel insurance premiums.
  • Bhutan visa fee (US $ 40 per person).
  • Drukair  / Bhutan Airlines fares ( Bhutan flight  fares).
  • Payment for services provided on personal basis.
  • Cost incurred because of political unrest, strikes and mishaps etc.
  • Personal expenses in items such as tips, laundry, camera charges, incidentals and porterage etc.

NOTE: On the day of departure, the local agent’s obligation shall be limited to breakfast only. Any extra requirements shall be payable on actual basis. The rates shall apply uniformly irrespective of locations and the type of accommodation provided /asked for.

Tour payment:

All tour payment must be settled one month in advance of commencement of tour to clear the Bhutan visa . The payment should be made in US Dollars. The tour booking will be confirmed only after we receive 50 % of the tour payment. 

Our Bank Address:

Please request your Bank to remit money through Bhutan National Bank  Ltd., Correspondent Bank as follows:

Bank Address: Standard Chartered Bank Ltd .

(Correspondent Bank): One Madison Avenue, New York , NY 10010-3603.

SWIFT Code: SCBLUS33,

CHIPS ABA: 0256,

FED ABA: 026002561.

Beneficiary Bank Account: 358-202-171-9001 (USD A/C).

Beneficiary Bank: Bhutan National Bank, P.O Box 439, GPO Building, Chang Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan.

SWIFT Code: BNBTBTBT

Beneficiary / Ultimate Beneficiary : Account No: 65570019 of Yak Holidays Int’l maintained with BNB, Thimphu, Bhutan.

Bhutan photos:

Faqs - bhutan travel cost:, 1. can i pay bhutan travel cost in instalments .

Yes, you can pay Bhutan travel cost in instalments. You may pay the cost of Drukair tickets in 1st instalment, sustainable development fee and Bhutan visa fee in 2nd instalment and lastly the package tour cost in 3rd instalment.

2. Can I pay for my Bhutan trip cost upon arrival in Bhutan ?

Yes, you have to settle a part of your Bhutan travel cost with us well in advance to process your Bhutan visa. You may settle rest of the payment upon arrival in Bhutan. 

3. Is there duration discount on Bhutan travel cost ?

As per the new policy of department of tourism, Bhutan, there is no duration / group discount on sustainable development fee (SDF). 

4. Can I pay for my Bhutan travel cost by PayPal or Credit card ?

No, you cannot pay your Bhutan travel cost by PayPal or credit card. You have to wire transfer the payment (Swift) which is the only mode of payment accepted by our Government.

5. What is Bhutan tour cancellation policy ?

Bhutan trip cancellation policy is below:.

(1) No charge if cancelled within 45 days of the start of the tour programme;

(2) Charge 20% of the tour payment if cancelled within 30 days of the start of the tour programme;

(3) Charge 30% of the tour payment if cancelled within 21 days of the start of the tour programme;

(4) Charge 50% of the tour payment if cancelled within 14 days of the start of the tour programme; and

(5) Charge 100% of the tour payment charge if cancelled within 7 days or after the arrival tourist in Bhutan.

6. Is there a group discount on Bhutan travel cost ?

Yes, we give discount on Bhutan travel cost if the group size is more than 16 pax.

Bhutan Travel Links

  • Booking Bhutan Tour .
  • Luxury Hotels in Bhutan.
  • Best time to visit Bhutan .
  • Bhutan Travel Cost .
  • Flights to Bhutan .
  • Photography Tour .
  • Honeymoon in Bhutan .
  • Trekking in Bhutan .
  • Bhutan Tours (Cultural) .
  • Festival tours in Bhutan.

Our reviews on Tripadvisor.

Why Book With Us?

  • No hidden cost / Best price guaranteed
  • Customer care available 24/7
  • Hand-picked Tours & Activities
  • Book now, pay later.
  • Hotels of your choice.
  • Top quality services.
  • Tailor-made trip.
  • Guaranteed Bhutan Visa.
  • Responsible Tourism.

Have a Question?

Do not hesitate to give us a call. We are an expert team and we are happy to talk to you.

+975-17726254

[email protected]

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Bhutan Festival Dates

Festivals

Bhutan is noted for its Tshechus , or festivals, which are held annually on dates which are chosen by the lamas according to the Buddhist lunar calendar. The festivals are held on the tenth day of the lunar month, in honor of Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian tantric saint who brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma from Tibet to Bhutan in the 8th century, because it is on the tenth day that he is said to have performed his great deeds. Each locality has a certain time of year during which the festival is performed.

These Tsechus are also large social gatherings, which perform the function of social bonding among people of remote and spread-out villages. Large markets also congregate at the fair locations, leading to brisk commerce. This is a great time to see and inter-mingle with villagers from far and near that congregate – sometimes walking for days and weeks – to participate in the festival. The festivals are generally preceded by a rituals and dances performed by monks or trained laymen in beautiful costumes of brilliantly colored silk and papier mache masks to the accompaniment of traditional instruments. The dances are usually held in the open courtyard of the local Dzong, or monastery/district administrative center, and attended by the local people who come to receive the blessings conferred upon the onlookers. This is a great time to be in the Dragon Kingdom.

If our published programs and dates do not match your timings or preference, then look through the tentative Festival Dates here and call us to build a personalized trip based on your desired festival dates.

Tentatives dates are accurate as of July 2022 courtesy of the Tourism Council of Bhutan .  We do our best, but dates may change due to re-calculation and other issues. Please double check all dates and festivals with Bhutan Travel .

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COMMENTS

  1. Why Bhutan should be on your 2023 bucket list

    Bibliophiles should keep their eyes out for the 2023 dates (likely around August) of the Bhutan Echoes literature festival, while sports fans should mark their calendars for the 2023 edition of the Snowman Race or the world's toughest one-day bike race, the Tour of the Dragon from Bumthang to Thimphu on 2 September 2023. Jakar Dzong, Bhutan.

  2. 12 Things to Know Before Visiting Bhutan in 2023

    3 short-sleeved T-shirts (to layer) 3 long-sleeved tops (to layer) 3 pairs of pants ( hiking pants, thermal pants and jeans) 3 jackets ( 1 windbreaker, 1 short coat, 1 long trench) 1 hat, 1 scarf, 1 pair of hand gloves. 2 sets of sleepwear. Enough socks, underwear and bras for the trip.

  3. Welcome to Bhutan Travel

    Welcome to Bhutan. In a world that is always on the go, Bhutan provides sanctuary. Here, you can find earthly pleasures: archery and age-old crafts, dishes of home-made cheese and fearsomely hot chillies, breathtaking treks and restorative hot-stone baths. But there's another Bhutan, too - the one hinted at by the prayer flags strung across ...

  4. Best Bhutan Tours & Vacations 2024/2025

    This tiny Himalayan kingdom does things differently. Having only been open to visitors for 45 years, Bhutan puts its environment, culture, and well-being ahead of economics. This place absorbs more carbon than it creates and a Bhutan tour is perfect for trekkers, nature lovers, and Buddhist pilgrims. From the jaw-dropping Tiger's Nest to the prayer halls of Gangte Goemba, you'll experience ...

  5. Bhutan Tourism Policy 2023: A New Chapter in Sustainable Travel

    Sustainable Travel Takes Center Stage. At the heart of Bhutan's tourism policy for 2023 is a steadfast commitment to sustainability. The policy places a strong emphasis on sustainable tourism development, with practices that minimize the impact of tourism on Bhutan's environment, culture, and heritage.

  6. Bhutan Tours & Vacation Packages

    Our Bhutan tours are always designed to help you experience authentic Bhutan. Feel free to customize any tour to incorporate your preferred destinations, interests & schedule. Starting September 1st, 2023, the Bhutan Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) will be discounted by 50%, reducing the cost from $200 per person per night to $100 per person ...

  7. 52 Places to Go in 2023: Bhutan

    VDOM DHTML tml>. 52 Places to Go in 2023: Bhutan - The New York Times.

  8. Bhutan Travel Updates for 2023 Trips

    Bhutan Travel Updates for 2023 Trips. Shedding some light on Bhutan's new pricing policy. As many of you are now aware, Bhutan reopened to the outside world in September 2022. After a 2 ½ year closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, tourists are now allowed back to the Dragon Kingdom with no Covid-19 restrictions. This is great news for everyone!

  9. 10 Best Bhutan Tours & Trips 2024/2025

    Best of Bhutan Tour- 7 Days Majestic Bhutan Tour 5.0 (2 traveler reviews) "Nature is breathtaking and the monuments quite unique. The travel agency was responsive and straightforward in our communications." Jesus, traveled in November 2023 . Destinations Paro, Thimphu, Punakha Age Range 14 to 65 year olds

  10. 2022

    2022 - 2023 Tours. Bhutan is re-opening its borders to international travellers from September 23, 2022 onward. Learn more about Bhutan's Grand Re-opening and the Government-updated sustainable tourism daily fee. In this section I have selected some of our Most Popular trips that we have to offer.

  11. Visiting Bhutan in 2023

    Bhutan, also known as the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is a small Himalayan kingdom located between India and China. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, unique culture, and commitment to preserving its environment and traditional way of life. If you are planning to visit Bhutan in 2023, here are some tips to … Continue reading "Visiting Bhutan in 2023"

  12. Bhutan Tours

    If you want to experience one of the festivals on your trip, then the dates you travel will obviously need to coincide with those of the festival. Departures from Kathmandu are as follows for the Paro and Thimpu festivals. Paro Festival: 14 th March 2024 Thimpu: 22nd September 2023

  13. Best Times to Visit Bhutan for the Perfect Vacation

    Also, the roads in Bhutan are of varying quality and can be very tricky due to the country's mountainous terrain. I would absolutely recommend having a driver rather than doing your own driving. A visa and travel insurance are required to visit Bhutan. I traveled to Bhutan with the wonderful MyBhutan. MyBhutan is run by an American, Matt, who ...

  14. The Best Bhutan Travel Guide| Everything You Need ...

    Photo by Gaurav Bagdi on Unsplash. Because of Bhutan's tourism policies citizens of countries other than India, Bangladesh and Maldives require to pre-arrange their tour of a minimum of $250 with a Bhutanese registered travel agency and obtain their hotel bookings and the visa their after.. You can arrange your Bhutan travel only through the tour agencies that are approved tour operators by ...

  15. Luxury Tours to Bhutan in 2023

    Luxury Tours to Bhutan in 2023. Luxury tours to Bhutan are an excellent way to see this ancient country in style and comfort. These tours offer ultra-luxury accommodations at world-class luxury hotels such as Amankora, Six Senses, and Uma by COMO. During these tours, travelers can expect privacy, serenity, and a unique experience.

  16. Bhutan Is Back And Ready For Tourism

    Bhutan, a bucket-list destination for many adventure travelers, closed its borders on March 22, 2020, due to the global pandemic. ... 2023, 05:04pm EST. Share to Facebook; ... Bhutan's Travel ...

  17. Things to know about visiting Bhutan

    While this approach was easy to maintain during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, when Bhutan decided to fully close its borders to foreigners, after nearly two years, the country started welcoming visitors again Sept. 23, 2022. But with that reopening came an overhauled set of tourism rules.

  18. Best Bhutan Tours & Holidays 2024/2025

    Bhutan Expedition: Hike the Trans Bhutan Trail. Alex · Traveled May 2024. The only way I can describe this trip is magical. The guide welcomed us with generosity and open arms into his country and home. Each day is completely unique and will make you fall in love with Bhutan and the people. Review submitted 19 May 2024.

  19. How much does it cost to travel to Bhutan in 2024?

    Dec 4, 2023. Reading time: 14 minutes. From September 2022, travelling to Bhutan involves a daily visa fee of US$200. You also need about $100 a day for food and accommodation if you go budget, or above $200 a day to do it in more style. But read on for more detail and costs like entrance fees.

  20. bhutan tour 2023 Archives

    Tag: bhutan tour 2023. Posted on November 1, 2022 November 14, 2023. Experience Trans Bhutan Trail in 2023. ... To travel on the Trans Bhutan Trail, you must hire a guide who speaks the local language. Your guide will be able to interpret the many dialects spoken throughout the country. You'll also get tea breaks and snacks at your campsite.

  21. Bhutan travel cost 2024 / 2025

    The Bhutan travel cost 2024 / 2025 for international tourists visiting Bhutan includes sustainable development fee (SDF) / Government tax of US $ 100 per person per night stay in Bhutan (Except for Indian nationals). This applies to all individuals above the age of 12 years. ... Festival Dates 2023 Drukair Flight Schedule Visa Blogs Flight ...

  22. Bhutan Festivals 2023

    Bhutan is noted for its Tshechus, or festivals, which are held annually on dates which are chosen by the lamas according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.The festivals are held on the tenth day of the lunar month, in honor of Guru Rinpoche, the great Indian tantric saint who brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma from Tibet to Bhutan in the 8th century, because it is on the tenth day that ...

  23. Bhutan

    The tour was supposed to be in October 2023. We made full payment to the agency in November 2022, T&Cs said 100% refund if we cancel before 10 days. ... Cannot recommend Bhutan enough! As a Bhutan travel agent with deep connections to this enchanting country, I'm thrilled to offer unique experiences to fellow travelers. From hiking remote ...