Druk Yul – The Dragon Kingdom, kingdom in the sky !
Today Bhutan, best known to the world as the last Shangri – la has a rare combination of harmony and accord amidst a landscape of incredible beauty. The Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan lies along the lofty ridges of the eastern Himalayas , bordered by China ( Tibet ) to the north and northwest, and by the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh , Assam , West Bengal and Sikkim on the east, south and west respectively.
Bhutan (Bhhu Uttan- meaning high land in Sanskrit) is also known as Druk Yul, The Land of the Thunder Dragon – an ancient Himalayan Kingdom. Little has been known about Bhutan, mainly due to its rugged terrains and thick forest cover. With the difficulties of nature overcome, Bhutan is yet to be discovered!
The history of the Bhutan kingdom dates back to the 8th century, with Guru Padmasambhava’s legendary flight from Tibet to Bhutan in 747 AD on the back of a tigress. The Guru, also considered as the second Buddha, arrived in Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest), on the cliffs above the valley of Paro, and from there began propagation of the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism
Bhutan is the only extant Mahayana Buddhist kingdom in the world of today, and the teachings of this school of Buddhism are a living faith among its people.
Protected by mighty Himalayas from the rest of the world and enriched by the essence of Drukpa Kagyu School of Buddhism, Bhutan has managed to remain shrouded deeply in a jealously guarded isolation. A basic understanding of Bhutan’s Buddhism is essential to understanding the Bhutanese. Bhutan is only the country has no traffic lights. Here is the busiest intersection in Thimpu of Bhutan and it only has one policeman directing the flow of traffic.
Information on Travelling to Bhutan
When to Visit Bhutan?
Spring (March, April, May) and autumn (September, October, November) are best seasons to visit Bhutan. Although December and Feb is still receommended. The major cultural festivals are held during these seasons and the fine weather makes it an ideal time for trekking and traveling throughout the country and viewing the high mountain peaks. The rainy season falls in June – August, with rainfall averaging about 0.5m (1.5ft). But still people can do the trip.
Clothing in Bhutan
In the months of October, November, December, January and February, mornings and evenings will be cold. You will have to being in warm clothes (thick overcoats not necessary). While the months of February, March, April, May, June, July, August and September the days are warmer. June, July and August will be little wet and some rain gear would be necessary.
Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing.
Sunglasses/spare glasses or contact lenses, pair of casual shoes, trekking boot if you choose bhutan treks, washing kit, shaving kit, towel, hat, umbrella, camera, film and accessories, maps, insect repellent, hand cream, small sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, sun screen cream, lip salve or soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, preparation for the relief of sunburn. You may not be tuned to the Asian drugs so it is always better to bring own brand.
Accommodation in Bhutan
Bhutan offers generally modest but clean hotels. There are none of the chain hotels in Bhutan although a couple of high end resorts have been opened in some districts ( UMa Paro and Taj). Earthbound expeditions and it’s agents puts you up in the best available hotels that are classified and approved by the Royal Government as class A. Visitors are advised not to expect luxury or five star hotel services. Bhutan’s local hospitality is, however, an insight into a society where tourism may be a new venture, but where visitors are greeted with true warmth and friendship. Only about 22,000 tourist visit Bhutan a year.
Generally, tourist facilities and services are good in western Bhutan, but the quality of service and facilities decreases the further east we go. This is because tourism is less developed in more remote areas.
Transportation in Bhutan
Expect some treks , most of the time we explore Bhutan by drive. We arrange comfortable passenger coaster buses for groups of seven visitors or more. You will also be traveling comfortably throughout the country in six seater Japanese hi-ace buses. Smaller groups of one to two passengers will discover the country in luxury SUVS.
Meals in Bhutan
A variety of meals are available in most hotels – the most popular being Indian, Chinese, and the more common continental food. Don’t forget the try Bhutanese Chilly and Cheese with brown Rice! Non vegetarian dishes are generally available in most parts of Bhutan – pork, beef, chicken, and fish. The best advice is to ask the hotel and restaurant to recommend what is fresh and in season.
Guides in Bhutan
In our Bhutan tours licensed Bhutanese travel guides will introduce you to the many facets of this interesting country. The English-speaking guides undergo regular training and, where required, specialized guides will lead you on bird watching, botany or other special tours.
Although the system of “give and take” is always there in Bhutanese tradition, tipping is not compulsory. But if you would like to appreciate the services of our guides, drivers and service staff you may tip them according to your will.
Money in Bhutan
Bhutan money is called NU (Ngultrum). 1US$ = 42NU (Ngultrum). Ngultrum is the currency of Bhutan. It is equivalent to the Indian rupee which is widely accepted throughout Bhutan. Its possible to get ngultrum at the Paro airport, Bhutan National Bank and the Bank of Bhutan. It is also available at all hotels but the exchange rate is slightly higher than banks. You are advised to bring in traveler’s checks or cash dollars which are widely accepted. There are no credit or debit card ATMs in Bhutan except for the locals. For convenience, it is preferable to have travelers cheques and/or cash dollars.
Bhutan Tourism Policy
The tourism industry in Bhutan is founded on the principle of sustainability, meaning that tourism must be environmentally and ecologically friendly, socially and culturally acceptable and economically viable. For this reason the number for tourists visiting Bhutan are kept to an environmentally manageable level through Government regulated tourist tariff.
It is mandatory to have your trips organized through any one of the registered tour operators in Bhutan as no other missions or embassies will arrange your travel to Bhutan. Bhutanese missions or embassies will not arrange your travel or tourist visa to Bhutan.
Also the Govt. have fixed the rate of tourist, how much they should pay each night.
Photography in Bhutan
Bhutan is a photographer’s paradise,perhaps have one of the most photogenic places in the world. The landscape, nature, architecture are amazing. People are generally happy to pose for pictures, but do ask before you do so if you are focusing on one person. Photography is not permitted inside Dzongs, monasteries and temples as they are considered living institutions.You could use your video camera for recording your events during the tours (except in those restricted places mentioned) but there is a set of rules for the commercial filming.
It is advisable to bring your own photographic equipment and needs.Films and camera batteries are available generally only in major towns. Slide film is generally not available so bring plenty of slide rolls if you’re shooting slides.
Travelling Insurance for Bhutan
It is imperative that you have full comprehensive insurance cover to protect against unforeseen accidents and mishaps. Such policies are not available in Bhutan. It should adequately cover baggage and travel delays, helicopter evacuation, transportation and medical assistance in case of treks.
Airport Tax : Airport tax of USD 19.00 per person is payable at the time of departure. It is subject to change.
Customs & Regulations
The Bhutanese authorities strictly prohibit the export of any religious Antiquity or antiques of any type. All personal electronics, Cameras, Video Cameras, Computers and personal electronic equipment may be brought into the country but they must be listed on the customs form provided on arrival at Paro and will be checked on departure. Two liters of Alcohol may be brought in to the country without duty. Cigarettes may be brought into the country after paying 100% duty tax as Bhutan is the first country in the world to ban the import and sales of tobacco.
How to Enter Bhutan:
There is only limited way in which you can enter Bhutan:
By Air: Druk Air is the only airline operating in Bhutan. As Druk Air flights may be delayed because of weather in the monsoon (July & August), it is advisable to keep a 24-hour gap before any onward international connections. It is connected with Kathmandu, delhi, Culcutta and Bangkok.
By Land: If you are travelling by Land you can enter Bhutan via Puntsoling of Sikkim ( India) area.
Earthbound Expeditions can assist you in arranging your Druk Air flights.For the Druk Air reservation, we would require your full names as in your passports.We will buy your Druk Air tickets and send them to you in advance or to the respective Druk Air check-in counters from where you board your flights. You may collect them at the check-in counter on arrival.
As the Bhutan tours fills very quick we request you to book the flight tickets atleast 4 months in adavance.
Please contact us for further detials on flight arrangements.
The Bhutan tour can be combined with Darjeeling, Sikkim, Tibet Lhasa or Taj Mahal, Jaipur in India. Also can be combined with Buddhist circuit tour like Lumbini, Boudhagaya, Kushinagar, Sarnath.