Frequently Asked Questions
1. When is the best time to visit Bhutan?
The busiest time is the spring months of March, April, and May and the autumn months of September, October, and November because the weather is milder and many of the largest festivals take place during these months. In the autumn the skies are clear and blue, affording views of the high Himalayas from passes and various other vantage points. Autumn is also the time of year when the black-necked cranes migrate to central and eastern Bhutan for the winter. The skies are less clear during the spring, but the flowers are in bloom. The downside of traveling during these peak months is that there are more tourists in general, and Drukair reservations need to be made well in advance to ensure availability.
The summer months of June, July, August, and even early September are typically the monsoon months, so you may encounter rain. The winter months of December, January, and February can be cold, but the skies are clear and blue. The upside of traveling during the off-peak months is that reservations are easier to secure, and there will be fewer tourists around. Many savvy travelers are discovering the advantages of low season travel to Bhutan during the winter months of December through February and the early monsoon months of June and July.
Truly, Bhutan is spectacular any time of the year, and your trip will be a great adventure no matter when you decide to visit!
2. Do I need a passport? Do I need a visa for Bhutan?
Yes, you will a passport to travel to Bhutan and it must have a validity of at least six months beyond your intended stay.
All visitors traveling to Bhutan are required to obtain a visa, except for Indian nationals holding a valid Indian passport. The cost of the visa itself is US$40 per person is collected along with the tour payment. Your visa will be issued and stamped in your passport at the point of entry at Paro International Airport or Phuntsholing if by road. You cannot obtain your visa prior to your arrival in Bhutan.
3. How can I obtain a visa for Bhutan? How long does it take?
YANA Expeditions, Inc. will handle the visa procedures for you. All visas are issued from Thimphu; visas are only issued to tourists booked with a local licensed tour operator. The tour operator submits applications for tourist visas. Visa clearance from Thimphu must be obtained before coming to Bhutan. Visa clearance takes at least 14 days to process. Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without visa clearance. At your point of entry the visa will be stamped in your passport.
The government of Bhutan will not issue a visa clearance until all tariff and Drukair fees have been received. Visa applications must reach Bhutan at least three weeks prior to your arrival date to allow time for processing. When completing the visa application, be sure to print your name and other information exactly as it appears in your passport, or Druk Air will not allow you to board the plane.
Passport details required to process visa:
1. Name as it appears in passport & Gender
2. Permanent Address
5. Passport Number
6. Date of Issue & Expiration of passport
7. Date & place of birth
4. Where do I enter Bhutan?
You can enter Bhutan via Drukair from the following cities:
New Delhi, India
Kolkata (Calcutta), India
The only airport in Bhutan is in Paro. You are required by the government of Bhutan to use Drukair at least one way. You can also enter from Phuentsholing or Samdrupjongkhar by car. Please contact us for flight schedule.
5. How can I purchase Druk Air tickets?
YANA Expeditions, Inc. will purchase the tickets and forward them Druk Air office at the airport of your embarkation prior to your arrival there. You can obtain the tickets at the check-in counter on the day of travel. These procedures are more practical way to get your ticket since the airline being small is not well represented abroad. We will send you a scanned copy of the tickets and the visa clearance for back up.
6. How much does it cost to visit Bhutan?
The price of the tours is set by the Bhutan government to control tourism and to protect the environment. Please contact us for details.
7. What is the fare for Drukair?
For Drukair airfare, please contact us.
8. What is included in the tour packages?
1. Accommodation on twin sharing basis
2. All meals as per itinerary
3. Transfer in Private Mini Vans as per itinerary
4. A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay
5. Entrance Fees and Permits
6. A Sustainable Tourism Royalty (US$ 65 per night)
7. Tourism Development Fund (US$ 10 per visit)
8. Visa fee (US$ 40)
9. Bhutan Bank Fees
9. Where does Sustainable Tourism Royalty go?
Guided by Bhutan’s development philosophy of GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS (GNH) crafted by His Majesty the fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Bhutan’s good governance ensures proper and monitored use of the Sustainable Tourism Royalty collected from visitors to Bhutan. This royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare poverty alleviation, along with the infrastructure development. In case of emergency even foreign visitors can avail the free healthcare during your travels in Bhutan. Thus, by traveling to Bhutan you directly contribute to Bhutan’s education, healthcare and poverty alleviation. Therefore, you are a philanthropist and this is one of the reasons you must visit Bhutan as a responsible traveler.
10. Can I have a private tour?
Yes, all of our itineraries are designed for private tours, meaning that we will not group you together with other tourists. So you can travel solo or bring along a few friends. You decide who will be in your group, and you will have your own English-speaking guide, driver, and transportation.
11. Can I customize my itinerary/tour?
Though we have many preset popular itineraries, please feel free to customize your schedule and tour. We will help you plan your itinerary based on your interests and time frame.
As you explore our website, you will certainly realize we are not your run-of-the-mill ‘active adventure’ company. One of the main differences is that you can tell us exactly when you want to travel, instead of us giving you a pre-set schedule of tours to choose from. We are also open to any size group. Furthermore, our tours are very flexible and open to your input, as well as what might be called ‘the pleasure of chance’, the small, daily discoveries that make traveling so exciting. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we quietly and efficiently take care of a multitude of details in order to ensure that you have a care- free, fun-filled adventure in one of the worlds most enchanting countries, BHUTAN: The Treasure Chest Of The Himalayas! Pick from among our sample tours, mix and match or start from scratch. Either way, we can tailor a tour to best fit your travel desires. All this adds up to making your holiday truly personalized and unique, with expert guidance to help pave the way towards having a wonderful, and memorable time in Bhutan.
12. Are there any discounts available?
- 1. There will be no charge for children aged 5 and younger. Children between the ages of 6 and 12, there are 50% discount when accompanied by an adult/guardian.
- 2. Full-time students under the age of 25 will be given a 25% discount if they have a valid identity card from their academic institution.
13. How far in advance do I have to sign up for the tours?
For most tours the booking must be completed 8 weeks in advance, but for tours during the festivals, booking must be completed at least 12 weeks in advance. Festivals held in the autumn and spring is peak travel time for tourists, and it can be difficult to secure accommodation and Drukair seats without advance notice.
14. How can I pay for my tour? What Currency do I have to pay in? Can I use my credit card?
Tour Payments can be Wire-Transferred to us to the following bank:
Name of the Bank: Bhutan National Bank
Bank Address: P.O.Box: 439, Thimphu. Kingdom of Bhutan
Swift Code: BNBTBTBT
ABA Number: 0210-0008-9
Account Name: YANA Expeditions, Inc.
Account Number: 29093008
Ultimate Beneficiary: YANA Expeditions, Inc.
Payments are accepted only in USD. Credit cards are currently not used in Bhutan. We apologize for the inconvenience.
15. What will the food be like?
You will have a variety of cuisines to choose from, including Bhutanese, Indian, Tibetan, Continental, and Chinese. The main staples of the Bhutanese diet are rice (red or white) and chilies. One dish favored by most Bhutanese is called “Emadatsi,” which is chilies and cheese. Meat is widely eaten in Bhutan, as are vegetables. Bhutanese food tends to be spicy, since many dishes are made with chilies, but the spiciness can be reduced to your liking.
16. What is the language of Bhutan?
The official language in Bhutan is Dzongkha, though many regions have retained their own dialects due to their isolation. English is the medium of instruction in Bhutan, and it is widely spoken by those who have received education.
17. What vaccinations do I need?
For up-to-date information about vaccinations for Bhutan, visit the Centers for Disease Controlwebsite.
18. Do I have to worry about altitude sickness in Bhutan?
The altitude in Bhutan is higher than many people are used to. Though most visitors will have no problem adjusting, altitude sickness may be a problem for certain people. Our cultural tours do not reach altitudes higher than 3,500 meters. All of our treks reach at least 3,500 meters, and some of our treks go as high as 5,000 meters. You can obtain more information on altitude sickness and prevention from the US Centers for Disease Control and from the International Society for Mountain Medicine.
19. What is the currency in Bhutan?
The currency in Bhutan is called the Ngultrum. It is linked and equal in value to the Indian rupee, which is also accepted in Bhutan. You cannot purchase ngultrum prior to arriving in Bhutan, but you can easily buy ngultrum at the Paro airport, at Bhutan National Bank and the Bank of Bhutan, and at major hotels in Thimphu and Paro, all of which accept traveler’s checks and/or dollars and various other currencies. When visiting smaller towns, however, you should bring ngultrum for your purchases, as it may not be possible to exchange your currency.
For up-to-date currency exchange information, you can refer to Exchangerate.com.
20. Can I use my credit card in Bhutan? Are there ATMs in Bhutan?
In general, credit cards are not accepted in Bhutan. Credit cards are accepted only at a few high-end tourist shops.
There are ATMs in Bhutan now. Master Card (Both Credit & Debit) can now be used in the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) to withdraw local currency. A maximum of Nu. 18,000 (Approx. US$ 400) can be withdrawn per usage. There is no limitation on transaction per day (except the limitation given by the Master Card issuance agency). There will be a charge of US Dollar 2.50 – US Dollar 3.00 per usage.
21. What is the time zone in Bhutan?
Bhutan has only one time zone. It is six hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), 30 minutes ahead of India, 15 minutes ahead of Nepal, and one hour behind Thailand. In the USA, during daylight saving time (April through October) Bhutan is 10 hours ahead of New York City. During standard time (November through March), Bhutan is 11 hours ahead of New York City.
The country code for Bhutan is 975.
22. Is it safe to travel to Bhutan?
There is very little crime in Bhutan, and it is safe for women travelers and solo travelers. For in-depth and up-to-date information on travel to Bhutan, you can refer to the US State Department’s Consular Information Sheet on Bhutan.
23. Do you provide travel insurance?
No, we do not provide travel insurance.
24. What if I need to cancel my trip?
You can cancel the trip at any time without obligation. You will be subject to a cancellation fee for tours booked, paid for, and later canceled as follows:
- 1. Within 30 days: Free
- 2. Within 21 days: 15% of the cost
- 3. Within 14 days: 30% of the cost
- 4. Within 7 days: 50% of the cost
- 5. Less than 7 days or cancellation without notice: 75% of the cost
- 6. After arrival in Bhutan: No Refund
25. What are the accommodation like?
We use what we consider to be the nicest accommodations in Bhutan (with the exception of the new resorts – Aman Resorts, Uma Resorts, Zhiwaling Hotel, which we can book. Hotels in western Bhutan have better standards than ones in the Central and Eastern part of the country. All accommodations are approved by the Department of Tourism, Royal Government of Bhutan. Each one is clean, comfortable, offering a warm welcome, friendly smile and restful haven that are much appreciated after a day of cultural exploration. Your hotels in Bhutan will provide you pillows, blankets, sheets, towels, bathroom tissue, and soap. You have to take your own toothbrush, toothpaste, lotions, and other items. All the hotels, lodges and guesthouses are equipped with telephones, fax machines and international dialing.
26. What is the weight limit for luggage on Drukair?
The limit is 20kg for economy class and 30kg for business class. It’s possible to pay for excess baggage, but there is a chance that the luggage will have to be sent on the next flight. Also, there is not a great deal of cabin space, so carry-on luggage should be kept to a minimum.
Please contact us for details
27. Why do I need a guide? Can I just tour on my own?
Tourism in Bhutan is highly regulated by the government. If you want to visit Bhutan, you must do so through a licensed Bhutanese tour company. You cannot tour the country on your own. And you cannot rent a car on your own. You are obligated to have a guide and a driver. This policy ensures that when you come to Bhutan, you will be immersed in a culture and environment that have been carefully preserved.
28. How do you dress in Bhutan and what kind of dress code is expected of visitors?
One of the unique identities of Bhutan is the national dress that men and women wear. Men wear a “Gho” which is almost like a bathrobe that is lifted to the knee and tied on the waist with a beautifully woven belt “Kera”. Women’s dress is called “Kira” that is an intricately woven textile piece about the size of a bed cover. It is wrapped around the body and held onto shoulders with gold plated silver broach. The upper jacket worn is called the “Tego” which is mostly made out of silk imported from India and China. All citizens are required to wear the national dress in public, government offices, temples, schools and formal gatherings. Visitors are advised to avoid wearing short shorts, low colored shirts and any kind of dress that expose or reveal. While visiting temples, hats and shoes have to be removed for respect.
29. How do you greet and address people in Bhutan?
“Kuzuzangpola” meaning “good health” is the most common way to greet a person. This greeting can be used throughout the day irrespective of whether it is morning, afternoon or evening. There are many ways to address people in Bhutan. The royal family members are addressed Dasho (male) and Azhi (female). A minister and the deputy minister’s are called Lyonpo’s who wear orange scarf on their shoulders with a long ornamented sword worn from the waist on the right side. People whose ranks are above the post of a director in the civil service and who wears a red scarf (scarf given when honored by the King) are addressed as “Dasho” meaning the “best”. A junior monk is addressed as “Gelong”, a senior monk as “Lopon”, an elderly monk made in-charge of a monastery or a temple is addressed as “Lam” generally appointed by the “Je Khenpo” the religious abbot of the monk body. On the other hand, nuns are called “Anims”. Additionally, a re-incarnate lama is known as “Trulku” or “Rinpoche” and are regarded very highly. An older woman is addressed as ” Aum” and a man as “Aap”. Address a boy as “buu” and a girl as “bum”. A layman is addressed as “Gomchen”.
30. What is the system of names in Bhutan? How do you name your children?
Besides the royal family, the Bhutanese generally do not have family names. Even the married couples are independent of their names. The wife does not adopt the husband’s name. Most people have two names, some have three names and some can only have one name without a last name. Some of the most common names are Karma, Ugyen, Tshering and Dorji that can be used for both boys and girls, and it can also be their first name or the last name. Names to children are given by the monks (lamas) during birth. If the monks are not readily available during birth, the grand parents get to name the new born which will last till a monk is consulted. All names have deep religious meanings.
31. Can I receive references from people who have traveled through YANA Expeditions?
Yes, please feel free to contact us anytime – Feedbacks/Testimonials