Language

Dzongkha, “meaning language of the dzong” (fortress), is closer and related to Tibetan. Originally spoken only in western part of Bhutan, Dzongkha is now national language of Bhutan. There are also other dominant languages as Bumthangkha, spoken in central Bhutan, Tshanglakha or sharchop, spoken in eastern Bhutan, and Lhotsamkha or Nepali, spoken in Southern Bhutan. And also there are over 19 different dialects with very little in common.  English is commonly spoken in the main towns and is the medium of instruction in schools throughout Bhutan.

Time

Bhutan time is 6 hours ahead of Universal Time and there is only one time zone throughout the country. Bhutan is 12 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time and 11 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time, Bhutan does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

Electricity/Power Voltage

The electric current I Bhutan is 220-250 volts, 5o Hz, with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets in the hotels rooms. A universal adapter is perhaps the most useful converter to buy and bring along. There are electrical appliance shops, but they are unlikely to be available what you are looking for sometimes.

Health and safety

No vaccinations are currently required for traveling to Bhutan. Before embarking on your journey to Bhutan, please seek advice from your doctor with regard to vaccinations and appropriate medication that you should have prior to your travels.

Though Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world you should still one should be caution of your belongings to be properly secured such as cameras, passports, purses and wallets when visiting the sights.

As the most of water sources in Bhutan are untreated, please avoid drinking tap waters, ice cubes in drinks if it has not been boiled. We recommend you to use the treated bottled water which are affordable.

As the road in Bhutan are on mountains that have plenty of curve, turns and winding. We suggest you to bring medication for travelers who are prone to car sickness.

Travel & Medical Insurance

We highly recommend all our travelers to buy your Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation Insurance before traveling to Bhutan. The additional insurance that you may want to consider purchasing includes coverage on trip cancellation, lost baggage, interruption and supplement medical insurance which is optional but highly recommend as we cannot give refunds on canceled, prepaid travel arrangements.

Climate

Bhutan’s climate varies dramatically depending on the elevation. Compare with the central valleys, part of eastern region of the country and southern parts of Bhutan is warmer. Higher the altitude it is cooler in the weather condition with brisk wind blowing off the mountains, that can even make the valleys in low elevation chilly. In the places like Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Monggar, Lhuntse, Trashigang on can enjoy a semi-tropical weather with cool winters, whereas in the places like Thimphu, Paro, Trongsa and Bumthang have a much harsher climate. June to September is the monsoon season with light rainfall can be expected throughout the country. November to March the climate is dry, sunny for most part of the country and at nights, morning and early evening are usually chilly and temperature drop to freezing. There is generally frost and snow on the ground at higher altitude. We recommend packing warm clothing for nights in Bhutan. The hotels are heated but can still be cold. Autumn and springs are best season for trekking in Bhutan.

Clothing, Shoes and Etiquette

For the best in comfort and durability, pack lightweight clothing that is quick-drying, loose and comfortable which allows the body to breath. Khaki-colored clothing hides dirt well. Keep in mind that it can get quite cold at nights and early morning depending on season or altitude, consider packing warm clothing. Layered clothing is better than one or two thick garments. Wind breaker will be perfect to carry and use for day hikes.

While visiting the religious site like Temple, Monastery, Dzong and at Festival dress modestly and wear full sleeved collared shirts (covered arms, no shorts or short skirts) and remove hats, caps, sunglasses before entering any religious establishment. Walk clockwise around the religious monument.

It is good to have a comfortable shoe that slip off and on easily for the visit of religious establishment as you will need to remove shoes before entering chapel room. You may want to leave your socks on, which is acceptable.

You may bring walking shoe, sandal and a pair of semi-formal shoes for appointments/function/dinners. We suggest a lightweight, quick drying hiking /trekking boots with good traction for hikes and treks.

Trekkers

We recommend you to bring along the following items:

  • A duffle bag or bag which will be easier for ponies to carry.
  • Extra bag or suitcase to leave your city items not needed on trek.
  • Trekking boots, make sure that these are well broken in.
  • Camp shoes to wear around campsite in evenings.
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads. You may want to bring your own thermarest as the one we provide are foam mattresses.
  • Socks, wool ones dry quicker than cotton.
  • Water bottles or camelback-type water holders.
  • Wind proof and rain gears – jackets/pants/ponchos/ gaiters
  • Enough spare of T-shirts, inner wears and trekking pants.
  • Light warm jackets, fleece/down jacket.
  • Wool or fleece hat, gloves, scarf, and pajamas or sweat suit for sleepwear.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, lip protection and insect repellent.
  • Tooth brush, tooth paste and other sanitary items.
  • Hat/cap to prevent from sun exposure.
  • Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries.
  • Backpack and waterproof backpack covers.
  • Plastic trash-type bags to protect your cloths and personal items.
  • Sewing kit, tissue, pocket knife with scissors, tweezers etc.
  • Camera with extra batteries (no facility to charge battery on trek).
  • Personal medicines or medical kit.
  • Walking poles (if desired)
  • Trail bars, sweets and personal snacks.
Cash

Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.).The Ngultrum is fixed to the value of Indian rupee. US dollars are accepted in handicraft shops, few hotels and for exchange in all banks in Bhutan. The small grocery shop and bars do not accept US dollars.

Credit and debit cards are accepted in few hotels and shop with an additional surcharge when paying by card. Visa and Master cards are more widely accepted. Bank of Bhutan ATM allows the withdrawal of local currency from your credit and debit cards. The maximum amount of Nu. 30,000 (roughly USD 400 –500) per withdrawal is allowed per day. A small transaction fee will be charge per withdrawal.

Ngultrums are not accepted and exchanged outside of Bhutan.

Note: Please inform your respective credit card company of your travel plans in advance of your departure. For your safety they will not authorize overseas charges unless they know the dates and destination of your travels.   

Telecom

Communications

There are two national telecom service providers in Bhutan, Bhutan Telecom and Tashi Cell. They provide comprehensive mobile (cell) phone network with global roaming assessability, however the network coverage is still spotty. If you wish to purchase a local pre-paid SIM card in Bhutan that will work with your phone, Bhutan Sky Trails guide will be happy to help you acquiring one.

You will be able to make international phone calls and check your email at accommodation used by Bhutan Sky Trails during your tour in Bhutan.

Internet

Most hotels have a free or inexpensive wifi service. In Bhutan even luxury hotels’ internet connectivity can be spotty. If you wish Data Card for internet (usb type), it can be purchased from Bhutan Telecom or Tashi Cell and used wherever there is cellular network.

For more information and option visit: B-Mobile: http://www.bt.bt or Tashi Cell: htpp://www.tashicell.com

Accommodation / Food

Accommodation

A wide variety of local accommodations are available in Bhutan, ranging from farmhouse stays to high end hotels. The hotels in Bhutan with 3 star category are referred to standard hotels. There are few luxury 4 and 5 star hotels in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang. Standard hotel accommodations offer the necessary facilities and amenities. The accommodation providers that cater to our guest are registered with Tourism Council of Bhutan.

Food

Bhutanese delicacies are rich with spicy chilies and cheese. The hotel and tourist restaurants will prepare mix of Continental, Indian and Bhutanese cuisine suitable to western taste. The meals served at tourist restaurants and hotel will be mostly buffet meals that you can select and enjoy. Bhutan Sky Trails tour escort will make a reservation lunch and dinner in advance during your tour in Bhutan. We will arrange picnic lunch for tour that pass through areas where local tourist restaurant are not available, and also during day hikes and on treks. Please advise us if you have any food restriction, so that we will do our best to accommodate your needs and preferences.

Photography

There are lots of photography opportunities of people, natural scenery, houses and religious monument structures. Bhutan is a true photographer’s paradise. However, we recommend you seek permission before taking pictures as there are some restricted sites. Photography in shrine rooms of monasteries, temple, dzongs and religious institutions are not permitted. If unsure, please consult your guide.

Shopping and duty taxes

Shopping

You can shop local goods and crafts like hand- woven textiles, wood-carvings, bamboo woven baskets, carved masks, wooden bowls, thangkha paintings, handmade papers and Bhutan’s exquisite postage stamps. Purchase cautiously as gemstone or antiques may not be authentic. Buying and selling of antiques is strictly forbidden in the country. Also refrain from buying anything derived from endangered species. Bhutan Sky Trail takes no responsibility for any unsatisfactory purchases made while traveling with us.

Customs

All visitors are required to fill a passenger declaration form for checking by concerned officers on arrival. The following articles are exempt from duty;

  • Personal articles use by the visitor
  • Equipment’s or appliances for professional use
  • Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use are allowed
  • Import/export restrictions of the following goods is strictly prohibited
  • Arms, ammunitions and explosives and explosive devices
  • All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs
  • Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species
  • Antiques

Be Cautious while purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance,. Custom authorities will not allow any used/old items to be taken out of the country unless certified as non-antique.

The sale of tobacco products is banned in Bhutan. The maximum amount of tobacco product for personal consumption is permitted however on payment of 100% Custom Duty and 100% Sales Tax.

Permissible and type for import for personal consumption are as follow;

  • 800 sticks of cigarettes; or
  • 1200 sticks of bidis; or
  • 150 pieces of cigars; or
  • 750 grams of other tobacco products.

Please have your Customs declared Receipt at all time. You may be asked to show it by the local authorities if found smoking in public areas. Hotels and other entertainment firms may have designated smoking areas, please check with hotel staff and your tour escort.