About Bhutan

About Bhutan

Bhutan is Nestled in the Eastern Himalayas between China and India, the small Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan opened itself to the outside world only in 1960s. Hithertho, it had been largely mysterious even to its neighbours but abandoning its self-imposed policy of isolation had it grappling to find a precarious balance between modernization and the preservation of its culture and traditions.However, it does seem that Bhutan has found the perfect balance between the two and now though it is making tremendous developments in all sectors, it also manages to hold onto its unique identity that makes it unlike any other country in the world with a population of just over 0.7 million. Druk Yul — the local name for Bhutan — means "Land of the Thunder Dragon." The dragon appears on the Bhutanese flag. Bhutan is the only country in the world to officially measure national happiness. The index is known as GNH (Gross National Happiness). Rather than placing emphasis on GDP, Bhutan attempts to track the happiness of its population.

United Nations bought into the idea in 2011 and released the World Happiness Report in 2012. The annual report uses Gallup data and ranks countries by factors such as social, health, and environmental wellness rather than just economic concerns. Bhutanese receive free education from the government. A heavy emphasis is placed on Buddhist teachings. Most schools have an English curriculum. Until education reform was passed in the 1990s, only around 30 percent of males and 10 percent of females in Bhutan were literate. Inheritance (land, house, and animals) is generally passed to the eldest daughter rather than the eldest son. A man often moves into the home of his new wife until he can "earn his keep."


Having always been politically independent, a rich and distinctive culture developed in the country over the ages. Perhaps the most important single factor in the molding of Bhutanese character and thought has been the teaching of Lord Buddha, whose eternal truths were first brought into the country from Tibet over the high, snow-bound mountain Passes by the great Indian saint, Guru Padsambhava.

In the Buddhist perspective, culture, tradition and beliefs and the environment are dynamic phenomena that are interwoven tightly in the web of life. As a Buddhist philosopher say, “Culture lies not in objects or monuments but in the mind and compassion towards all sentient beings”.

People & Language

The country’s difficult topography succeeded in keeping each ethnic group separate and vibrant. The majority of the Bhutanese are divided into three main ethnic groups: the Sharchops, people from the east, the Ngalops, people from the west and the Lhotshampas, people from the south. Tshanglas, the inhabitants of Trashigang, Mongar, Pemagatshel, and Samdrup Jongkhar are considered Bhutan’s earliest residents and their origins can be traced to the Tibeto-Burmese race. The Ngalops of western Bhutan are the later settlers who migrated from Tibet bringing with them Vajrayana Buddhism as it is still practiced today. Lhotshampas migrated into Bhutan from the south and settled in the southern plains in search of agricultural land and work in the early 20th century. Bumthaps and Khengpas of Central Bhutan, Kurtoeps of Lhuentse, Brokpas and Bramis of eastern Bhutan, Doyas of Samtse and Monpas of Trongsa and Wangdue constitute other minority groups.

When to go to Bhutan

Spring & Autumn are the best time to visit Bhutan. Having said so, summer and winter have their own draws and attractions. Spring is the favorite time to visit Bhutan. Nature lovers who are keen on local flora should consider visiting Bhutan end of April or in May. Flowers would be in full bloom then. It really depends on what you want to see and do. If you want to trek, April, May, September and October are the best months with optimum weather. Although it is colder, the skies are generally clear and blue, and most importantly, it won't be muddy.

Festivals & Religions

Tshechu is a religious festival meaning "tenth day" held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country. The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple.

Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.

For visitor

Comfortable clothing & sturdy, soft-soled shoes are essential for travel in Bhutan. Warm clothing is recommended; and except for summer months, down jackets and woolen sweaters are suggested. In summer, heavy cottons and lightweight woolens will be acceptable. Altitudinal differences account for a wide range of temperatures from day to night the year round. It is, therefore, suggested that clothing be layered so that you can adapt to the changing conditions.

While visiting temples and other religious places, you will need to dress conservatively. Slacks are more appropriate for men; and longer-length skirts are more appropriate for women. Shoulders must also be covered when inside religious buildings. Please keep in mind that shoes must be removed when entering temples. It is, therefore, suggested that you carry a pair of socks to wear inside religious buildings. Try to avoid reveling clothing.


Shaking hands is not Bhutanese custom, but is becoming more widely excepted is larger towns. A formal greeting would be to bow with our hands stretched out in front on you open with your palms facing up. Bhutanese add “la” to the end of sentences during a conversation why trying to be polite or show interest (even in English). When a senior person walks into the room everyone is expected to stand, and when it is time to leave no one gets up until the guest of honor stands to indicate they are about to leave.


The kingdom of Bhutan is widely known for its deep-rooted traditions and cultural aesthetics. One of the things that make this nation stand out from other developing nations is their dress code behaviour. The traditional attire for men and women were introduced around the 17th century by the unifier of Bhutan as a nation-state, 'Ngawang Namgyal' to display their unique identity. It was made mandatory for Bhutanese citizens to wear their traditional outfits in an attempt to promote and preserve Bhutanese heritage.


Bhutan’s climate is diverse due to dramatic variations in elevation. The Duars Plain tends to be hot and humid; the Lesser Himalaya region is often cooler; while the areas in the Greater Himalayas are closest to that of alpine tundra. The southern belt of the country at the foothills of the Himalayas (150-2,000 meters [m]) above sea level) has a subtropical climate with high humidity, heavy rainfall, and average temperatures of approximately 15°C-30°C year-round. The central belt is characterized by river valleys (2,000-4,000 m above sea level) with cool winters, hot summers between June and September, and moderate rainfall. The Northern belt consists primarily of snowcapped peaks and alpine meadows (4,000 m above sea level) with cold winters and cool summers. Precipitation ranges widely across the country and occurs primarily during the monsoon season between June and September as well as the pre-monsoon season. The country is also be characterized into six agro-climatic regions: alpine, cool temperate, warm temperate, dry sub-tropical, humid sub-tropical, and wet-sub tropical.

Travel Tips

  • If you are visiting a Dzong or temple make sure to Take off your shoes before entering.You may take photos in the courtyard, but never in the temple. Always move in a clockwise direction. Don't speak loudly. You should leave a small offering of money. When you do a monk may poor some holy water into your hand. then you should drink it (or pretend to), and spread the rest on your head from front to back
  • If you would like to exchange some gifts with your Bhutanese friend make sure you should never open a gift in public or in front of the person who gave it to you. Generally Bhutanese will refuse something three times before they except it (they are not being rude). Even if you are a tourist you are expected to refuse something at least once. The exchange of presents between the citizens of Bhutan is customary unless a present is received from a superior. If you receive a gift, make sure to always return the container the gift was given in and include a bit of nibbles such as fruit, breads, or candies. Bhutanese view those who don't return the container as a sign of poverty
  • When dinning in a group wait for every one to be served (even at restaurants). If you are the guest the host will ask you to start eating once every one is served. If you are the host you need to ask the guest to start eating, then once they start you may eat.
  • Most hotels have WiFi, but if you need more connectivity you can get a local SIM card from Tashi Cell or B-Mobile and top up with prepaid cards


Money: Bhutanese currency is Ngultrum (Nu.) and is officially pegged to the Indian Rupee (Rs.). Also Indian Rupee is acceptable all over Bhutan, except Rs 500 and Rs 2000 currency notes.

Credit Cards have limited acceptability and payment through credit card is accepted mainly by Deluxe hotels, restaurants and few selected Handicrafts establishments, located in relatively larger towns.

ATMs facilities are available only in prominent towns from where travelers can also withdraw local currency Ngultrum, but in limited quantity.


You are allowed to carry up to the limit of 10,000 USD cash if not you can carry your visa/credit card for your personal shopping.

Tipping is not a standard practice but there are no strict laws against it too. You may or may not want to tip the driver, porter, bell hop, maid, tour guide or any other service provider depending on how much you were satisfied with the services they provided and how much you enjoyed your trip because of them. It is not compulsory to give out tips in Bhutan and you are the one to decide whether you were really treated & served well or not and whether they are worth rewarding.

In hotels and restaurants, usually a standard service charge is levied on your bill but if you are really happy with the good service that they gave you, you can offer a tip to service staff. Normally, people pay tips after the work is completed but there are people who tip the staff beforehand to ensure a good service too.


Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the South to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.
It is a government regulation that you must use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator to book your travel to Bhutan or one of their international partners.
All International tourists wishing to enter Bhutan require a visa which must be pre-arranged through a license Bhutanese Tour Operator or one of their international partners. Visa clearance must be obtained through your tour operator prior to travel. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives may obtain a visa on entry

For International tourist visas, a cost of USD 40 is applicable. This can be paid in advance to your tour operator or travel agent. For Indian passport (or VIC) holders, Bangladeshi nationals and persons from the Maldives, there is no cost incurred.

There are a number of airports where you can fly into Bhutan from (Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. Also, there are three land border crossings which you can travel into the kingdom overland. All crossings are along the Indian border only - Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar. All travel arrangements to Bhutan must be made through a local tour operator. A list of tour companies operating in Bhutan is available on this website. Your selected tour operator will make all the necessary arrangements.

The $200 per day (January, February, June, July, August) and $250 per day (March, April, May, September, October, November) package includes a minimum of 3 star accommodations, costs for food, an experienced guide and transportation within the country. Also included in the price is a $65 per day Sustainable Development Fee that goes towards free education, free healthcare and poverty alleviation. All of these services will be arranged by your tour operator

Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum. Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee which is widely accepted in the country.

There is no limit on the number of tourists allowed to visit in a year. In order to protect our culture, traditions and natural environment, the government has adopted a unique policy of “High Value, Low Impact ”. This policy is aimed at attracting discerning tourists that will respect the unique culture and values of the Bhutanese people while also providing the visitors with an unforgettable one of a kind experience.

The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness. Chillies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that is not spicy. Rice forms staple Bhutanese diet. It is accompanied by one or two side dishes consisting of meat or vegetables. Pork, beef and chicken are consumed most often. A wide selection of western and Indian food is also available in many of the restaurants around the country.

It depends on the season of travel. Except for summer months, warm clothing, down jackets, and sweaters are recommended. In summer, heavy cottons and lightweight woolens will be acceptable. Layering is best to accommodate the varying temperatures. Also remember to pack comfortable, soft-sole shoes. While visiting temples and other religious places, remember to dress conservatively. Slacks are more appropriate for men and pants/longer skirts appropriate for women. Shoulders must also be covered when inside religious buildings

Our destination specialists will recommend certain travel times after learning more about your preferences. The Bhutan climate is varied and depends on the elevation. The southern areas are more tropical while the Himalayan regions have continual snow. The southwest monsoon is usually from June – September. Also, many travelers visit Bhutan during a specific festival or holiday, when the towns become vibrant stages for music and dance performances

Immunizations are not required to visit Bhutan. (Exception: if you are traveling from an area infected with Yellow Fever, you must have a certificate.) Depending on the season and region of travel, certain vaccinations and/ or medications are suggested and we will recommend preventative measures. We do encourage all travelers to be current on routine immunizations. Also, we recommend the Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccine. Malaria is present in lowland regions of Bhutan, and preventative treatment and tropical strength insect repellent is advised

Yes, altitude sickness is common in Bhutan and can affect any traveler, regardless of age, strength, or fitness level. Symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, edema and insomnia. To alleviate the chances of altitude sickness, we recommend limiting alcohol, staying hydrated and planning for rest days in the higher elevations.

Bhutan has a low crime rate and is generally a safe country. However, as with any international travel, please be aware of your surroundings. Check with your guide about the safe/unsafe areas of town and use caution when traveling alone. Also, always make sure your purse is zipped and wallets are in sealed pockets. In the markets, be vigilant of pick-pockets and distraction scams. The best deterrent is caution and awareness.

English is commonly spoken, as it is the medium of instruction in schools. The national and official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha, a Tibetan dialect spoken mainly by Ngalop in the northern and western parts of the country. Road signs and government documents are written in English and Dzongkha, and the national newspaper is printed in English, Nepali and Dzongkha. In the villages, different ethnic groups speak their own language.