Bhutan Visitor Guide

Mystical Bhutan Tour Festival with a large puppet display
Thimphu Tshechu

Page last updated: 07 February 2024

Bhutan is a wonderful destination…...

Make it an even better experience by thoroughly reviewing this visitor information document and especially please read the sections listed just below very carefully.

  • Cancellation Charges & Travel Insurance
  • Communications in Bhutan
  • Currency & Credit Cards
  • Deposits
  • Hotel Accommodation & Meals in Bhutan
  • Tipping Guide

AUS toll free, James – 0412 416 111, Nicola – 0413 598 669

Airline Baggage Alert:

We remind travellers that power boards and spare or loose batteries are considered ‘Dangerous Goods’ and must only be packed in your carry-on baggage. Please do NOT pack these into your checked baggage.

Bangkok Airport Stopover Hotel

We personally recommend, the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, for it’s extremely convenient location. The hotel shuttle runs every 5-10 minutes 24/7 and can be accessed by Arrival Hall exit door 4 or you can take the 300m underground walkway from the lower terminal level.


A fixed price system prevails in Bhutan and bartering is not generally part of Bhutanese culture. The only exception is some market places. Please seek the advice of your guide.

Bhutan HALF BOARD Land Package Inclusions:

  • Personal English speaking professional guide.
  • Personal driver with private SUV or minibus.
  • All touring & transfers throughout your journey.
  • Hotel accom (3 star) with private bathrooms.
  • Breakfast & Dinner and two 500 ml bottles of water daily.
  • Sightseeing as per your itinerary.
  • Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) & local taxes.
  • Bhutan visa fees & processing.
  • Bhutan & Beyond bank transfers for payments to Bhutan suppliers.
  • Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION.
  • Our comprehensive Bhutan Visitor Information guide.
  • ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel.
  • Professionally operated by Bhutan Tourism Corp Ltd (BTCL).
  • Option to substitute 3* hotels for farm stays in some valleys.

Bhutan HALF BOARD Land Package Excludes:

  • International flights to/from Bhutan.
  • Domestic flights within Bhutan if applicable.
  • Personal bank charges incurred making payments to Bhutan & Beyond.
  • Lunch at own expense budget @US$10-12 pp per day
  • Monument & entrance fees are at your own expense.
  • Personal items: phone calls, laundry, drinks, designer coffees & snacks between meals etc.
  • Tipping – we will advise your tipping regime.
  • Travel Insurance is mandatory to be granted a visa to enter Bhutan.
  • Any COVID-19 PCR or RAT tests required.

Bhutan FULL BOARD Land Package Inclusions:  

  • Personal guide & driver with SUV or minibus.
  • All touring & transfers throughout.
  • Traditional 3 star hotels with private bathrooms.
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) and two 500 ml bottle of water daily.
  • All sightseeing as per your itinerary.
  • All monument & entrance fees.
  • Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) & local taxes.
  • Bhutan visa fees & processing.
  • Bhutan & Beyond bank transfers for payments to Bhutan suppliers.
  • Professionally operated by Bhutan Tourism Corp.
  • Comprehensive Bhutan visitor guide & full support from Bhutan & Beyond.
  • ATAS Accredited via our parent company MTA Travel
  • Access to our exclusive travel app COMPANION

Bhutan FULL BOARD Land Package Excludes:

  • International airfares to/from Bhutan.
  • Personal bank charges incurred making payments to Bhutan & Beyond.
  • Personal items incl laundry, drinks, designer coffee’s telephone calls, tips etc.
  • Upgrade costs for luxury hotels are additional.
  • Travel Insurance is mandatory  to be granted a visa to enter Bhutan.
  • Any COVID-19 PCR or RAT tests required.

Cancellation Charges & Travel Insurance:

The Drukair / Bhutan Airlines air flight component of your tour package will be totally non-refundable once tickets are issued.  Your Bhutan land arrangements are subject to the cancellation fees below.  Travel insurance, which includes cancellation cover, emergency evacuation & repatriation & COVID-19 related medical cover, is mandatory to be granted a visa to enter Bhutan. Your insurance should be purchased no later than the day you pay your tour deposit or international airfares for your protection.

Failure to purchase adequate cancellation insurance by the time your deposit is paid could result in serious financial loss should you be forced to cancel your journey.

  • Deposit date until 45 days prior arrival in Bhutan – Land tour deposit is refundable if staying in 3* hotels throughout less B&B service fees.
  • 45 days or less prior to arrival in Bhutan – No land tour refund permitted.
Please Note:
  • If upgrading to 4* or 5* & luxury hotels additional deposits will be required & we will provide you with the hotel’s own terms & conditions should you need to cancel prior to your final payment due date.
  • These conditions cover land travel arrangements only, not airfares, which are subject to their own cancellation conditions.

Checking in your Baggage to/from Bhutan:

  • Please check-in your baggage at the Drukair/Bhutan Airlines counter immediately before your flight to Paro, Bhutan.
  • When departing Bhutan, it may be possible to check your baggage through to your home destination. Contact Bhutan & Beyond for guidance. 
  • Warning!! If you are connecting on to a low-cost airline, or an airline not supported for baggage interlining, you must have more than 4 hours connection time between your flights. You will need to collect your baggage & clear immigration before checking in for your next flight which may be from a different terminal or even a different airport.


 WARNING! Most weather websites list very inaccurate temperature and rainfall data. Please use the guide below.

Average daytime highs and nighttime lows in Celsius:










































































































Climate – continued:

Global climate-change has made weather patterns unpredictable and Bhutan is no exception. Please always prepare for the possibility of extreme weather events, regardless of the season you are travelling in. Please always carry warm clothing, even in the summer months, to guard against lower than average temperatures.


Bhutan has made big steps in coffee quality and presentation over the last few years. Excellent coffee shops are springing up in Thimphu and Paro and quite a few of the 3-star hotels now have Illy coffee machines. If you are keen to stop and enjoy a coffee during the day just let your guide know and he’ll factor in time for you. Coffee at local shops is at your own expense.

Communications in Bhutan:

To avoid high global roaming fees just use your smart phone to access hotel wi-fi, which is generally free.

Local SIM Cards: If you need to be contactable at all times  you can purchase a local sim and call credits at a kiosk in the arrivals terminal at Paro airport. You must have a scanned copy of your passport photo page and note you will be assigned a new Bhutanese telephone number.

The WIFI will probably be accessible about 80% of the time you are in Bhutan due to network disruptions. 

Cuisine, Beverages & Drinking Water: Please Read This!

Many Bhutanese exist on rice, chillies and some vegetables 3 times per day. So if you want to eat like a local that’s what you’ll get! More generally the Bhutanese diet consists of a little meat and poultry, dairy, grain (particularly red and white rice) and vegetables. Ema datse (chilli pepper and cheese stew) is considered the national dish with many interpretations to this recipe throughout the country. Salted butter tea (suja) is served on all social occasions. Chang, a local beer, black mountain whiskey and Arra, a spirit distilled from various grains, are also common and widely favoured. A very good Scotch blended whiskey called K5 is worth trying. Bhutanese wine is constantly improving and inexpensive.

The standard tourist class hotels generally offer a mix of Bhutanese/Indian & western style breakfasts. Bhutanese style lunches & dinners slightly adjusted to western tastes. Increasingly Indian style food is also on the menu. At Amankora Luxury Lodges, and selected other luxury hotels, an international menu is generally available in addition to Bhutanese favourites.

The Bhutanese eat very simply and, whilst tourists are offered a wider range than the locals enjoy, please expect basic but wholesome fare with an emphasis on rice and vegetables.

Water is generally safe from the hotel tap for brushing teeth. Bottled water is recommended for drinking and you will be provided with safe bottled water daily. 

Culture & Adherence:

Bhutanese culture is accessible, unique and immersive. Tourist visitors enjoy authentic Bhutanese culture from arrival to departure.

It is not permitted to enter a Lhakhang or Dzong without your guide accompanying you.  Some Dzongs and Lhakhangs are not open for visits by tourists. This is to ensure monastic life can continue unhindered and also for environmental reasons. Please be wary when purchasing antiquities as souvenirs, as many are not permitted to be exported and will be confiscated without a letter of certification. Special Note – Photography is generally not permitted inside Lhakhangs (temples) and only in the courtyards of most monasteries. Please consult your guide for advice as the rules are constantly changing!

Currency & Credit Cards:


Advice from the Bhutan dept of Tourism indicates a new generation banking app will be introduced in the first quarter of 2024. This is expected to be very useful for international tourists. Further details as they arrive.

Meanwhile, acceptance of credit cards is still not guaranteed due to connectivity issues, therefore, CASH IS STILL CURRENTLY ‘KING’ IN BHUTAN.

The Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum (Nu) and is the same value as the Indian Rupee. Both can be used in Bhutan. It is recommended that foreign visitors take in US$ and/or Indian Rupees which are widely accepted. In theory India rupee notes over INR500 are not officially accepted, however we have been informed most Bhutan hotels and local service providers will accept the new INR1000 and INR2000 notes.

Best to take USD cash and/or INR500 or lower value notes where possible.

Here are some useful tips on currency & credit cards.

  • Consider a budget of US$35-60 per person per day. This will cover porter’s tips, drinks & small handicraft purchases.    
  • US$100 bills do receive a much better exchange rate when exchanging money at local banks, shops or at hotels.
  • NOTE! US$100.00 dollar bills issued before the year 2000 will NOT be accepted!
  • Bhutan now has fewer ATM machines, due to the introduction of local banking apps, so it is essential you carry USD and/or INR to cover your purchases while in Bhutan.
  • You can obtain Bhutanese Ngultrum from the Paro airport bank on arrival, however there is no airport facility for exchanging unused Nu when departing Paro.
  • Local Bhutan ATMs are no longer recommended as a reliable option.
  • Local Bhutan ATM’s will only accept credit or debit cards marked Cirrus or Maestro.
  • There continues to be an on-going problem with Credit Card acceptance. Please carry extra US$/INR currency.
  • Australian dollars can be exchanged for Bhutanese Ngultrum at the Paro airport bank.
  • During Festival periods banks will be closed for up to 4 days at a time – please be prepared!!

We DO recommend you carry some USD/INR cash with you, even if you plan on using the local ATM’s or credit cards, as a back-up. 

Visa & MasterCard (and occasionally American Express)  are now frequently accepted in the larger handicraft shops and in most hotels except in eastern/central Bhutan. When using your credit card please check with the merchant first to ascertain their merchant fee surcharge.

Please advise your bank of each country you are travelling to, and the dates, before your departure from Australia or your country of residence. You can generally now do this on-line. That way your ATM debit and credit cards will be accepted without interference or extra security checks as you travel.

Deposits & Final Payments:

It is essential you have your travel insurance in place, at the time of paying your tour deposit, for your protection. 

  • Deposit date until 45 days prior arrival in Bhutan – Land tour deposit is refundable less B&B service fees.
  • 45 Days or less prior to arrival in Bhutan – No land tour refund permitted.
Please Note:
  • Any related air flight tickets will be subject to the airline’s terms & conditions.

Dogs & Noise:

In November 23 Bhutan achieved a global milestone. It had vaccinated and desexed all stray dogs. Whilst dog numbers are reducing, and their general health is much improved, due to a successful and an ongoing program for canine rehab run by the Government, there are still occasional problems with stray dogs. Caution, and avoiding personal contact is suggested. They can be noisy at night…especially in the capital Thimphu and Paro town. You might consider carrying ear plugs if you are especially sensitive to noise at night.

Dress for Bhutan:

The official word is dress should not be too formal; plain, simple and inoffensive clothing is expected. No singlet tops or short shorts. 3/4 pants are fine as long as you are not entering Dzongs or Lhakhang’s (temples). Remember to pack warmer clothing for the evenings and try and take just 2 pairs of footwear. A pair of comfortable walking shoes or light boots (unless high altitude trekking) will see you right for day use (including valley hikes) and a more comfortable pair of shoes for about the hotels in the evenings.

Suggested Clothing Guide (trekkers please refer to the separate guide):

  • Light rain/ windproof jacket any time of year.
  • Warm clothes, hats, gloves and a scarf for winter (December-early March).
  • Comfortable jeans, trousers or long skirts.
  • Long and 3/4 sleeved tops/shirts (with collars or scarf to cover shoulders and neck must be worn when visiting Lhakhangs/ Temples/ Monasteries.)
  • Polo style T-shirts with a collar (for warmer months of May-Sep).
  • A jumper & jacket are essential at all times of the year due to both traversing high passes & unseasonal weather.
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes for day use and a second pair for evenings at hotels.
  • Sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm and moisturiser (required all year round).

Other necessary items to carry with you

  • Essential medications & a small medical kit including travel motion sickness medication.
  • Trekkers, or those with lung related conditions, should also consider Diamox or Viagra (for altitude sickness).
  • Special Note!! Many visitors mistake motion sickness for altitude sickness due to the winding roads!                 
  • If staying at a local farmhouse please carry a handtowel and flannel. A small torch is also recommended.
  • Day pack, binoculars and camera.

Dress Code for Entering Dzongs, Monasteries & Lhakhangs (Temples):

Depending on whom you talk to the exact dress code for Dzongs, Monasteries & Temples can differ. Use the details below to assist with your planning and we recommend you discuss each days’ visits with your guide to reconfirm appropriate attire.

It is essential you adhere to the dress code guidelines below. To avoid offence to the Bhutanese and we kindly ask all travellers to respect these requirements and listen to advice from your guide.

  • Please wear shirts with collars, long or short sleeved.
  • Women can wear a pashmina, or scarf, in lieu of a collared shirt to cover neck & shoulders.
  • Full long pants or long skirts – ankles must be covered ladies!
  • NO hats, umbrellas, slippers, T-Shirts without collars, knee length or short skirts, ¾ pants or shorts please.
  • In many religious sites you will be required to remove your shoes. We recommend thick long socks to cover your ankles which you will appreciate on the often-cold stone floors.   
  • It is mandatory to dress in “Smart/Adventure Casual” and please no short pants, skirts, tank tops etc.

Duty Free Allowances:

The following allowances are per person for bring items into Bhutan:

  • Two 1 litre bottle of spirits or wine (rigidly enforced)
  • 100mls of perfume
  • 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250grams tobacco
    (a duty will apply to bring cigarettes and tobacco products into Bhutan of 200%. No receipt no entry for tobacco!)
  • Gifts/Souvenirs – up to US$150.00

Please note:

  • The exportation of genuine antiquities, religious objects, and manuscripts is strictly forbidden.     
  • Bhutan does not seal liquor & it may be confiscated from you in Bangkok or Delhi so pack it in your checked luggage!!     

Duty Free Purchases Containing Liquids:

Disclaimer: It is not the role of Bhutan & Beyond to provide accurate duty free information and we do so as a general guide for our travellers convenience. It is up to the individual traveller to further research the latest regulations for their intended destinations.

If you purchase duty free liquids (liquor/perfume) at a foreign airport, they are subject to confiscation at any intermediate airport you may transit or stopover in, en-route back to you home country.

Drinks Prices:

Approximate costs in US$ at standard 3* hotels. Prices can be much higher in luxury hotels & upmarket restaurants.

  • Large bottle of Mineral Water – US$0.75
  • Local Beers – US$2.50-3.00
  • Imported Beers – US$3.50-4.00
  • Bottle of Local or Indian Wine – US$7.00-15.00
  • Bottle of Imported Wine – US$35-40.00 +


Bhutan operates on 230 volts, 50 cycles AC system, which is generally reliable although short duration power outages are not uncommon. The standard socket is the Indian style round pin socket, however these come in a variety of sizes and there’s no assurance the plug you have on your appliance, or converter, will fit the socket in your hotel. Most European round-pin plugs work, albeit loosely in the socket. Take a universal adapter with you and if you are still having problems there are plenty of electrical shops in Thimphu who can assist with a local version. Power points are often unreliable, and too few, so do consider taking a power board with you.

Example of a universal power adaptor.
European power adaptor will work in Bhutan.

Emergency Telephone Numbers in Bhutan:

Ambulance 112; Police 113; Fire 110.

Home Stay & Farmhouse Stays:

A stay in a traditional Bhutanese home or farmhouse is possible in several valleys. This is a genuine & rustic experience and ‘not for everybody’. It is best considered outside winter months as Bhutanese homes are not well heated. We recommend you take your essential luggage in a small sports or duffel bag for ease on steep, narrow, Bhutanese stairs which do not lend well to large suitcases! Usually you will get a western style toilet but washing will largely be restricted to a basin of warm soapy water and you should carry your own hand towel. Please note – some farm stays offer a traditional hot stone bath experience (additional cost US$15-18 pp). Consider carrying a torch or use the flashlight in your smartphone for farmhouse stays.


Festivals in Bhutan have reputations for being raucous, joyous affairs. The most popular for tourists are those held in Thimphu & Paro and those seeking a more intimate Bhutan experience should consider avoiding these major festivals as they mark the busiest time of the year for the tourism industry. Festivals in Bhutan.  


The Bhutanese frown on frivolous gifts for local people, including children, as they are believed to encourage begging which the Bhutanese Government is determined to avoid at all cost. The very best gifts are reading glasses of different strengths (readily available from low cost shops), oral hygiene kits (preferably individual kits incl floss, toothbrush, mouthwash, toothpaste, body wash or soap) and functional shoes, or warm clothes. These can be left with your guide who will pass them to our charity organizers in Bhutan – The Tarayana Dragons. Coloured pencils, pens, paints & pastels are always welcomed however, best to give them to your guide, or other adults to distribute, rather than to the children themselves. Stick pins/fluffy koalas are a novelty but of little practical value so best left at home.

Health & Personal Fitness Requirements:

Whilst Bhutan is a relatively safe country to visit, and there are currently no mandatory health requirements, public health facilities are basic in some regions. Please note there is a rabies risk in the entire south Asian region and ideally you should seek professional health advice at least 8 weeks prior to your departure.

We also encourage all travellers to ensure that their hepatitis and tetanus vaccinations are always kept up to date and to carry some stomach upset medication as a precaution.

Your nearest Travellers Medical Alliance Clinic in Australia can be contacted by telephoning: 1300 421 142.

Altitude Sickness: It is advisable to avoid any trekking or strenuous hiking until day 3. As a precaution we suggest those in the high-risk category (unfit/predisposed to asthma/other lung conditions etc) and/or those undertaking high altitude trekking, carry Diamox or Viagra for the relief of altitude sickness as such medication is rarely available in Bhutan. If you suffer from altitude sickness please descend as quickly as possible and drink plenty of fluids. Diamox (Acetazolamide) or Viagra may be combined with Ibuprofen or paracetomol and after initial treatment symptoms may last for a few days. 

Motion Sickness Bhutan’s roads are winding and motion sickness medication is recommended as a precaution. In our experience most people who believe they have altitude sickness actually suffer from motion sickness.

Personal Fitness No matter your age, we recommend a level of fitness that enables you to be agile enough to climb & descend steep stairs and to walk over uneven ground. Cultural touring in Bhutan often requires short walks and/or steep stairs to access temples and dzongs. Undertaking any of the hiking options we offer in our itineraries is completely optional.

Hiking Poles; Snacks & Boots/Shoes:

If you wish to use a quality hiking pole, please take one from your home country. The only hiking poles available in Bhutan are made from branches collected in the forest and are not readily available at all hotels. It is also a good idea to consider taking a snack with you when hiking. Such snacks will be at your own expense and your guide can assist with purchasing these locally.

Lightweight hiking boots or comfortable walking shoes will suffice for valley hiking in Bhutan.  Please clean your hiking shoes before departing Bhutan!

Hotel Accommodation:

Most visitors to Bhutan take the standard tourist tour package which includes Bhutanese style 3-star hotel accommodation with private bathroom. For you to get the best from your Bhutan experience we urge you to consider the following points.

  • Please don’t expect your hotel to be any more than a basic 3-star property … and you won’t be disappointed.
  • Double bedded rooms need to be requested and are subject to availability.
  • All hotels offer private bathrooms however the hot water supply can be ‘erratic’ in some valleys in Bhutan.
  • If there is not plug in your bathroom basin please enquire at hotel reception.
  • Power outages are possible in some valleys, particularly in the Phobjikha valley and eastern Bhutan.
  • It is possible to upgrade to 4*, 5* & luxury hotels in some valleys.

Opening Times for Major Institutions in Thimphu

Please note – all timings listed are subject to change at short notice for a variety of reasons so use as a guide only ! Bhutan Public Holidays 2024

  • The National Library: Mon – Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm. Closed Sat, Sun & Public Holidays.
  • Royal Textile Academy: Tue – Sat 9.00am – 4.00pm. Closed Sun, Mon & Public Holidays. 
  • Institute of Traditional Medicine: Mon to Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm. Closed Sat, Sun & Public Holidays. Visitors only permitted to the museum & library.
  • Centenary Market: Produce market open daily includes the sale of clothing & homewares & souvenirs (Fri-Sun)
  • Kaja Throm: Vegetable market open daily.
  • Thimphu Post Office: Mon to Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm. Sat 9.00am – 1.00pm, Closed Sun & Public Holidays.
  • Handmade Paper Factory: Open Mon – Sat 9.00am till 5.00pm. Closed Sun & Public Holidays,
  • Gold/Silversmith: Mon to Fri 9.00pm to 5.00pm. Closed Sat & Sun & Public Holidays.
  • Simply Bhutan: Open daily.
  • Zorig Chusum – The Institute of the Thirteen Arts & Crafts:
    Mon to Fri 10.00am to 12.00pm and 1.30pm – 3.00pm. Saturdays 10.00am-12.00pm. Closed Sun, School & Public Holidays.
  • Nado Incense Factory: Mon to Fri 9.00am to 5.00pm. Closed Sat, Sun & Public Holidays.
  • Gagyel Lhandrup Weaving Centre: Mon to Sat 00am to 5.00pm. Closed Sun & Public Holidays.
  • Biswa Art Gallery: Mon to Sun 09.00am to 5.00pm
  • Tashichodzong: Open for visits only in Winter from 4.15pm, weekdays & Summer from 5.15pm week- days. Open Weekends & Public Holidays 9.00am to 5.00pm Summer & 9.00am to 4.00pm in Winter.

Passports & Visas:

All visitors require a passport, valid for at least 6 months longer than their journey, and an e-Visa for Bhutan which must be pre-approved prior to your arrival. Your Bhutan e-Visa will be arranged by Bhutan & Beyond and all we need is a quality scan (or smart phone image) of your passport photo page, a copy of your travel insurance, certificate of insurance & a recent headshot. If entering Bhutan overland from India please also carry 2 passport sized photos as these will be required by Bhutan Immigration.

**Special Note** You must enter Bhutan using the same passport detailed on your Bhutan e-Visa,  or you may be denied entry as your e-Visa will be invalid. If you are permitted to board your flight to Bhutan, on an invalid visa you will be fined up to US$330.00 by Bhutan Immigration on arrival in Paro airport.

Bhutan visa costs are built into your travel package. A Bhutan e-Visa is issued after prepayment for your travel arrangements and approx 15-20 days before your arrival in Bhutan. The actual visa is entered into your passport on arrival at Paro Airport or at one of the land border crossings. Please carry your Bhutan e-visa maybe inspected when entering some important sites, especially in Thimphu.

If travelling to India and Nepal please note visas are also required and we will provide you with the relevant information.

Personal Security:

Bhutan remains an extremely safe destination with an exceptionally low risk of theft or harassment. However, we do recommend you keep all cash & valuables either on your person or in your vehicle where they will be safely managed by your driver whom you can trust implicitly. Please do NOT leave cash/valuables on display in hotel rooms.

Public Holidays:

Bhutan Public Holidays 2024

Most important cultural sights will remain open to visitors on public holidays . However we recommend you seek further information from your guide as regulations can change at short notice.

Road Conditions: 

The road widening works along Bhutan’s National Highway, in Western & Central Bhutan, are largely complete. Minor curb & drainage work is still underway but does not impede the flow of traffic. Eastern Bhutan is still undergoing road widening works in remote regions.  Times of any road closures can change at short notice. Please be flexible and patient when travelling in eastern Bhutan! As a result, your driver & guide will suggest best times for road travel to suit the conditions on the day.


Shop for genuine Bhutanese regional handicrafts at the Craft Bazaar in Thimphu. Some handicrafts sold in Bhutan come from Nepal so check first. The best weavings and textiles will generally be Bhutanese and can be quite expensive as they are top quality. For general trinkets and handicrafts, the cheapest place to buy is from the traders at the beginning of the Taktsang Monastery hike trail and, also at the first view point on that same trail (Paro valley). Thimphu and Paro main streets generally offer the best shopping. Check out the new Gagyel Lhandrup Weaving Centre in Thimphu whose products are all made on site and quite exquisite.  Next door is the artist S. Bishwa’s gallery which is worth a visit. Paro is good for inexpensive local jewellery. The weaving centre in Chhume Valley, central Bumthang region, also offers some of the best weavings, handicrafts and textiles shopping in the Kingdom.

Speaking Dzongkha:

Dzongkha is the official of Bhutan. Here are a few basic phrases to help you along the way. Your guide, along with most Bhutanese up to around 55 years of age, will generally speak very good English.

  • Kuzuzangpo La – Respected Greetings. (use this when meeting new people – drop the ‘La’ for friends)
  • Tashi Delek – May all good things come to you. (use this as a farewell)
  • Kardenche La – Thank you.
  • Goempa – Meditation Centre.
  • Lhakhang – Temple.
  • Chapsa – Toilet.
  • Chuu – Water.
  • Arra – Whiskey or locally brewed spirit.
  • Bang Chhang – Beer.


Regulations on smoking in Bhutan are vague and seemingly changing regularly as at JAN 2024, here is our take on this.

  • Smoking is generally frowned on and only possible in strictly designated locations. Seek assistance from your guide.
  • It is now possible to purchase tobacco products from selected authorised local vendors. Your guide will assist.
  • If carrying in any tobacco products, for personal use only, you must show a valid receipt of purchase to avoid confiscation, and be prepared to pay an import duty of up to 200% of the value of the product.
  • Please DO NOT barter or sell tobacco products to local Bhutanese.

Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest):

The hike to Taktsang Monastery is a culturally significant ‘pilgrimage’ during which each time along the trail counts as merit points toward a Buddhists next life. 

  • From 2023, access to Taktsang Monastery is by advance purchase ticket only. Your guide and driver will attend to this and the cost is usually included in your prepaid tour package. 
  • It is possible, but not recommended, to hire a horse to take you as far as the first Monastery viewpoint on a ascent only. It is not possible to descend by horse as too steep.
  • The one-way horse ascent costs US$16.00 per person, and must be pre-arranged the day prior and the cost is to be paid direct. This is an option you must elect to take at your own risk & please ensure your travel insurance provides coverage for horse riding!
  • Taktsang hike should be commenced early in the day, to avoid crowds and take into account the Monastery closes at 3.00 pm each day. 

Tipping Guide: Updated to include Porters & Temple Donations!

With the exception of your guide, driver and, more recently hotel porters, where you feel the need, please avoid tipping. It is generally accepted that accompanied children do not need to be included in the tipping formula. The tips for your guide and driver should be paid to them directly on the last afternoon of your stay in Bhutan. You can pay in either USD or local Ngultrum (Nu). Tips for hotel porters, often young ladies, should be paid direct at the time.

These are suggested tips for your guide & driver and are at your discretion, however tipping is expected! 
1-2 adults travelling:   US$8-10 per person per day for your guide & US$5-7 per person per day for your driver.
3-8 adults travelling:   US$6-8 per person per day for your guide & US$3-5 per person per day for your driver.
8-16 adults travelling: US$4-6 per person per day for your guide & US$3-5 per person per day for your driver.

TIPPING: continued.

For travellers visiting Bhutan for more than 8 nights we recommend a slightly lower daily rate is paid for your guide and driver tips and again at your discretion.

Porters: US$1.00 per bag. This equates to approx 80 Indian rupees or Bhutanese Ngultrum @ JAN24. Please only tip a porter if you feel they have gone to extra effort ie carrying heavy bags up stairs.
Temple Donations: Each time you enter a temple it is customary to leave a small donation. Nu100 (approx US$1.40)  is sufficient.

Tipping Guide When Trekking:

At the end of each structured trek component of your stay in Bhutan (not applicable to day hikes) you will also need to tip your trekking cook, helpers and horsemen. Your trekking guide will normally be your guide throughout your entire journey so wait and tip guide and driver at the end of your stay in Bhutan using the formula above.

Recommendations for tipping trekking crew: These figures below are the total tips to be offered and not per person. You can arrange to pay these tips via your trekking guide who will assist with this process.

Treks of 5 trekkers or less:
Short Treks of 4 nights or less: Total US$100 to the 2 cook/helpers and total US$80 to the 2+ horsemen/porters.
Longer Treks of 5 nights plus:  Total US$150 to the 2 cook/helpers and total US$100 to the 2+ horsemen/porters.

Treks of 6 trekkers or more:
Short Treks of 4 nights or less:  Total US$150 to the 2 cook/helpers and total US$120 to the 4 horsemen/porters.
Longer Treks of 5 nights plus:   Total US$200 to the 2 cook/helpers and total US$150 to the 4+ horsemen/porters.

Premium Trek Tips: Please add 15% on to above suggested tipping regimes if you are taking our ‘Premium Trek Equipment’ option. This is due there is more work for the crew to set up and pack up the campsites.

Travel Insurance: 

It is mandatory for all visitors to Bhutan to hold a valid travel insurance policy, in order to be granted a visa. We recommend that you have your travel insurance in place at the time of paying your Bhutan travel deposit for your protection. Bhutan & Beyond can assist you with travel insurance from GO Insurance. 

Please ensure your travel insurance has coverage for cancellation; emergency evacuation & repatriation; hiking to at least 3200 m & COVID-19 medical cover in order to be granted a Bhutan entry visa. Please ensure you carefully review travel insurance Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) before you make your decision to purchase insurance.

MUST READ! Please be aware Travel insurance does NOT cover you if Governments close international borders, therefore preventing travel to be undertaken at late notice. This exclusion has always been in place pre-COVID-19, and is not a new exclusion. 

Many travel insurance policies no longer cover selected adventure’ activities such as motorcycling; high altitude trekking; white-water rafting etc.  and often only cover hiking up to 2000m (In Bhutan hiking can regularly reach 4000m). If you intend to undertake these activities in Bhutan please ensure you purchase an insurance policy covering all such activities. Neither Bhutan & Beyond, nor our regional suppliers, will accept responsibility for any accident, loss or death resulting from such adventure activities. Motorcyclists MUST hold a travel insurance policy which will cover them whilst riding a motorcycle of  up to 500 cc . Please note that many policies DO NOT provide this cover, however we have negotiated cover for up to 500 cc bikes, at no extra cost, for approved riders holding licenses for such motorcycles.


High altitude trekking involves accommodation in tented campsites and is not possible mid-June to early October, when it is too wet or from 15 November to early March when it is too cold and snow may prevent traversing mountain passes.  Professional trekking guides, horsemen (with horses) & a cook support trekking groups. Campsites are set up in advance and trekkers enjoy the magnificent scenery & culture with only a daypack to carry. Binoculars, camera, sunscreen, insect repellent (in summer), sunglasses, lip balm & snacks. A comfortable pair of hiking boots and warm clothing are essential. Winter trekking is kept to the lower altitudes in the valleys. Many treks take you to high altitudes and the air is thin. Altitude sickness is a potential threat and should be considered when planning your itinerary.

You must provide your own sleeping bag (a quality sleeping bag rated -25 to -45 degrees celsius is recommended). An extra sleeping mat is recommended as only a thin mat is supplied unless you purchase our ‘Premium Trek’ option. Please also consider a Thermarest self-inflatable mat for longer treks.

If you require a quality hiking pole, please take one from your home country. The only hiking poles available in Bhutan are made from branches collected in the forest and are not readily available at all hotels. You may also want to consider taking extra snacks for between meals. These will be at your own expense and easily available locally prior to your trek.

Please clean your trekking boots before departing Bhutan. This will enable a smoother entry to your next destination.

Warning:  Global climate-change has made weather patterns unpredictable and Bhutan is no exception. Please always prepare for the possibility of extreme weather events, regardless of the season you are travelling in. If trekking, please consider mid-April to June and early October to mid-November for best weather & trekking conditions.

Visas for Bhutan, India & Nepal:

A visa to enter Bhutan will be pre-arranged on your behalf by Bhutan & Beyond.  All you need to do is email us a quality scan (or smartphone image) of your passport photo page (in colour please), along with a recent headshot (take a selfie with a plain wall background) and a copy of your travel insurance policy certificate. When entering Bhutan through the southern land border crossings at Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jongkhar two passport sized photos are also required.

Warning: If you obtain a new passport, without alerting us, or enter Bhutan on a different passport to the scan you have sent us, you will invalidate your visa and be fined up to US$330.00 which you must pay on the spot to be granted entry to Bhutan. You MUST enter Bhutan on the passport that you have emailed us in advance.

Here are the latest visa fees and websites for information and visa processing. Most visitors to Nepal obtain their ETA – electronic travel authority before their departure. An ETA guarantees travellers a visa will be issued on arrival at Kathmandu airport. 

 Nepal Advance Online Visa Application:
To pre-arrange your visa on arrival at Kathmandu (Tribhuvan) International Airport please follow the link above to the NepaliPort Department of Immigration online visa application. This form can be completed no earlier than 15 days prior to arrival in Kathmandu. When you arrive at immigration in Kathmandu airport you simply hand over your passport & visa fee and your passport will be endorsed with your Nepal visa.

Official webpage of Nepal Tourism Board official is .

Current visa fees are as follows:

  1. US$30.00 – 15 day Visa
  2. US$50.00 – 30 day Visa
  3. US$125 – 90 day Visa

You can obtain more visa application details on these web pages.

Welcome Nepal Tourism Site

You MUST obtain your India visa in advance from your home country of residence, ie Australia. Please proceed to the web pages below for all India visa information and processing options:

INDIA e-Tourist Visa: 
You don’t have to send your passport away for this visa option however it is essential you read the conditions VERY carefully! This visa application should be commenced 20-30 days before arrival in India.

Or for those who do not qualify for an e-tourist visa please use this web link for visa application information.

Wildlife in Bhutan:

Despite a plethora of National Parks, and wildlife refuges, spotting wildlife in Bhutan is more a matter of good luck and vigilance. As at JAN24 the Bhutanese govt has announced a series of eco lodges will be constructed in coming years and located in southern central Bhutan close to the Indian border. 

Trekkers in other regions of Bhutan also have the opportunity to spot wildlife such as deer, mountain goats, monkeys, languars & yaks. Bird life is common and very rarely a leopard, bear or tiger is spotted. Please do not factor in a guarantee of major wildlife encounters on your Bhutan visit.

Winter Travelling: December-February:

Whilst this is a terrific time to visit Bhutan, with far less tourists and surprisingly mild daytime temperatures, there are reduced daylight hours and you will need to compromise on missing some of the suggested sights unless you factor more days into your visit. 

Tashi Delek – May All Good Things Come to You.