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Bhutan

Continent: Asia
Region: South Asia

Ideal Duration: 6 - 8 days

Currency: Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN)

Best Time: March to May, September to November Read More

Budget: Cheap

"The Happiest Country in All of Asia"

Bhutan Tourism

The ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ – Bhutan nestles in the mountainous regions of the Eastern Himalayas and is one of the cleanest countries in the South Asian territory. A remote kingdom that still clings on to its Buddhist culture but embraces modernisation, Bhutan is a land with monasteries, traditional architecture, beautiful valleys, snow-clad mountain views and lush greenery. Being Landlocked the country enjoys significant tourist influx from its neighbours Tibet and India. 

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Best time to visit Bhutan

March to May, September to November is the best time to visit Bhutan

March to May (Spring) and September to November (Autumn) is the best time to visit Bhutan.  In spring, which falls from March-May, the weather is beautiful and pleasant. The flowers are in full bloom, and the scenery of the land is brilliant. The country also hosts various festivals during the spring such as the Paro and Punakha Tshechu. Autumn, on the other hand, is from September - November which also boasts of affable and genial weather. 

Due to its location, Bhutan is prone to varying climatic and altitude differences. It has distinct seasons namely, spring, summer, rainfall, autumn and winter. 

In Summers from June to August, the temperatures reach 24-25 degree Celsius. From July onwards the southwest monsoons set in offsetting the heat but one has to carry a raincoat if out on a sightseeing. Similarly the winter months of December -February witness the spell of the northeast monsoons. Snowfall is expected in late January and early February when the temperatures drop to the lowest.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Amazing weather at all times
Picturesque surroundings
Rich cultural history
World's first carbon negative country

What's Not So Great?

Roads can be unsafe
A threat of natural hazards such as landslides and earthquakes

For Whom?

Nature lovers. Pilgrims. People fascinated by cultural history.

Read More on Bhutan

Exchanging Money in Bhutan

Apart from the Ngultrum, the Indian Rupee and US Dollar are accepted as legal tender. Indian rupee holds almost equal value as that of Bhutanese Ngultrum. ATMs only accept Bhutanese bank cards apart from the Druk PNB ATMs. Travellers are thus advised to carry traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Indian Rupees. 

Nightlife in Bhutan

Owing to the strong cultural influence that prevails in Bhutan, there is not much of a nightlife here. 8 PM is considered as the end of a typical working day. However, there are a few underground clubs where the part starts after 10 p.m. on Friday and a few other days of the week. There are a lot of Karaoke clubs where you can sing your heart out.

Read more on Nightlife in Thimphu

Shopping in Bhutan

Many hotels even have souvenir shops that sell local handicraft items, clothing, fridge magnets, jewellery, and herbs. Tourists very popularly demand Bhutanese stamps. Normally, these markets and bazaars are open from 8 AM to 8 PM. You can buy souvenirs from the base of the Tiger's Nest Monastery trek at an affordable price. Don't forget to haggle though!

Read more on Where to Shop and What to Buy.

Festivals of Bhutan

The most widely celebrated festival is Tshechu or the tenth day and is a major tourist attraction. This festival is celebrated on the tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Buddhist Guru Rinpoche. All visitors must attend a Tshechu fair and witness the mask dances to receive the blessings and wash away the sins. These mask dances are portrayals of historic incidents that took place in Bhutan during Guru Rinpoche's time. In monasteries, the mask dances are performed by monks, and in remote villages, they are performed jointly by monks and the village locals.

Read more on the Festivals of Bhutan

Hygiene in Bhutan

Special precautions must be taken for Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Malaria, Rabies, Tetanus, Typhoid. Bird flu has recently become common in Bhutan, and thus we recommend caution and care. Only drink boiled water if it is unbottled and have fruits and vegetable after washing them.

Customs of Bhutan

  • The customary greeting is joining palms and bowing down.
  • Money is taken and given with both hands.
  • Display of affection between people of different sexes publicly is not well received, so if you are travelling with your partner, avoid getting intimate in public.
  • At monasteries or temples, it is customary to make a small donation to the monks as a sign of respect.
  • Do not smoke at monasteries and in public places, since all tobacco items are strictly banned in Bhutan.
  • In temples or religious places, remove shoes and headgear and wear clothing that expresses respect for the sacred nature of the site and the culture of the country.

Tips for visiting Bhutan

  • Mineral water is widely available
  • Milk should be boiled before consumption
  • Powdered or tinned milk is available
  • Only eat well-cooked meat and fish
  • Medical facilities are good but not always close at hand
  • Officials in Bhutan have reported repeated outbreaks of bird flu
  • Products containing tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc.) are effectively banned throughout Bhutan (which remains the only country in the world to do so), and penalties for possession or use may be severe
  • Give and take money with both hands
  • One needs to be dressed up in fully covered clothes (legs and arms should be covered) while visiting monasteries and other attractions
  • Carry a raincoat and a jacket at all times

Food of Bhutan

Meals mostly vegetarian, but non-vegetarian meals are also available. The most popular dishes are Datshi (Cow's milk cheese) Be ready to savour some Ema Dhatsi (chillies and cheese), Kewa Datshi (potatoes and cheese) and Shawa Datshi (mushroom and cheese)

Other dishes include Tshoem (a spicy curry made with beef and mushrooms), Eue chum (Bhutanese red rice), Sha Kam (Dried beef), Hoentoe (Buckwheat dumplings), Jasha Maru (Spicy minced chicken), Goep (Tripe), Ara (alcohol made from fermented rice) and Chang (Local beer). Ema (Chillies) is a popular ingredient in the traditional Bhutanese Dishes.

Read more about Local Dishes of Bhutan


Facts About Bhutan

  • Tourists are blessed with elusive sightings of Blood Pheasant, Black-necked Crane, Golden Langur, Clouded Leopard, Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf and Takin (the national animal), to name a few.
  • The pristine Bhutanese architecture featuring rammed earth, daub and wattle construction, intricate woodwork for roofs and windows and stone masonry are noteworthy. The castle fortresses of Dzongs have no iron bar or nail used in construction.
  • Another surprising thing in Bhutan is its roads devoid of traffic lights in the capital city of Thimphu as the white-gloved officers regulate the traffic.
  • Yak butter tea and meat curry with chilli are common Bhutanese food and beverage items to try.
  • The Gangkhar Puensum (24,840 feet) stands as the world’s highest unclimbed and sacred peak while Drangme Chhu valley is the lowest point in Bhutan.
  • The southern Shiwalik Hills covered in broadleaf forest, Mo Chhu river system in Black Mountains, Haa Valley, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Royal Manas National Park and the Jigme Dorji National Park are the important sectors of biodiversity.
  • For trekking, Snowman Trek, Masagang Trek and Jhomolhari Base Camp Trek are popular.

Regions in Bhutan

Bhutan is geographically and culturally divided into three regions: Central, Eastern and Western. These are then divided into 20 different districts for administrative purposes.

West Bhutan: The western region of Bhutan is generally considered to be the traditional part of Bhutan. Also, the only operational international airport is situated in Paro, which is nearby to the western region. This is a popular segment of Bhutan and is home to some of the most famous tourist destinations in the country, like the Tiger's Nest Monastery. Other historic locations like Punakha, the scenic valley of Phobjikha, the small and beautiful town of Haa, Gangtey, and the sacred peak of Jhomolhari are located in the western region. Also, some of the most colourful festivals are celebrated in Paro during Spring and in Thimpu during Autumn. Hence, the west of Bhutan is undeniably the most important one in terms of cultural tourism in the country.

Central Bhutan: The central region of Bhutan is for those who wish to explore the country in detail and depth. The central part is all about deep valleys, ancient monasteries, daunting dzongs, and some of the most picturesque landscapes which the country has to offer. The dzong of Trongsa is the entrance point to the central region in Bhutan, and from this place, you will have access to the four beautiful valleys of Bumthang.
In Bumthang, which is also known as the Chokhor Valley, you will get to experience some of the most exotic monasteries, royal palaces, remarkable sceneries and the most traditional architectural wonders. Some other major tourist destinations in this region are the beautiful small town of Wangdue, the Royal Manas National Park, Galephu, Jakar Dzong, Tamshing Goemba, and so on. 

East Bhutan: East of Bhutan is all about fascinating village towns, beautiful silk and embroideries, temples and dzongs, and everything picturesque. The East-West Junction in Trashigang, which is termed as the ‘Jewel of the East, is a must-visit place in eastern Bhutan. The Trashigang Dzong or the Fortress of the auspicious hill, Trashiyangtse (the 1500 sq metre forest region of the National butterflies), Mongar, Lhuntse, Khoma Village, Samdrup Jongkhar, are some of the best tourist destinations in the eastern region of Bhutan.
Eastern region is usually untouched by too much of tourism and is home to the minority ethnic groups, some of which comprises of less than 1000 people. So, in case you wish to get a glimpse of the best of local traditional arts & crafts, the eastern region of Bhutan should be there in your itinerary.

Why Visit Bhutan?

  • Bhutan is shrouded in mysteries and a rich history which sometimes could be surprising. It is a land of chillies and red rice, where chillies aren't used for seasoning but as the main ingredient. 
  • Traditional attire is an indispensable part of Bhutanese people as you will find women and men wearing Kira and Gho respectively to work, educational institutions and on festivals.
  • Bhutan has a number of highly detailed Dzongs and temples. Some of the dzongs have been UNESCO heritage since 2012.
  • It's hard to not notice giant penis paintings over the walls of many houses, which are a part of their tradition. The Drametse Mask Dance with colourful costumes depicting demons, heroes, gods and animals should not be missed as it is UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • Modern Rigsar played with traditional instruments like boedra and zhungdra as well as modern electronic keyboards is an auditory treat. Although a land that's slowly modernising, Bhutan still clings on to their Buddhist traditions which makes the country profound.

FAQs on Bhutan

How to reach Bhutan from India?

Jaigaon is the Indian town touching Indo-Bhutan Border, and Phuentsholing is on the other side. All the formalities to get a permit to enter Bhutan, are carried out here at the immigration office. 

Cheaper option:

One can take a flight until Bagdogra from anywhere in India. After landing in Bagdogra, hire a taxi to Jaigaon (Approximate fare - INR 2500). One can also take a bus to Jaigaon from Siliguri or Kolkata. It takes approximately four to five hours to reach Jaigaon from Bagdogra. You can easily walk from Jalgaon to Phuentsholing and back without a permit. Phuentsholing and Jaigaon offer an array of accommodation options for a break journey.

Another way to reach is to take a train from Siliguri to Hasimara junction which is accessible from Jaigaon via local transport (Rickshaw). The train takes approximately 2.5 hours to reach Hasimara from Siliguri.

The gate remains open from 8:00 AM IST to around 11:00 PM IST. The immigration office in Phuentsholing is only 100 m away from the gate.
Take a taxi to Thimphu, which will cost around Nu 2500. Alternatively, you can also take a small coaster bus from Phuentsholing bust stop for which the fare is around 230. There is also an option of taking a shared taxi which will cost around Nu 600. Thimpu is at a distance of 176 km from there. Taxis are available at Phuentsholing Bus stop and a few from Jaigaon. If you take a taxi from Jaigaon, a separate vehicle permit will be required.

Driving your own car/motorbike
You can obtain the permit for your vehicle from the Regional Transport Office in Phuentsholing by paying a fee of INR 100-200. 

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