Bhutan Travel Guide

Continent: Asia
Region: South Asia
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Bhutan Travel Packages

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Bhutan Travel Essentials

Ideal Duration: 7-10 days for a cultural tour or trekking; 2 weeks for a more immersive experience

Currency: Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN)

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

Accommodation Cost (per night in USD):
Government-regulated daily tariff (includes accommodation, food, guide, and transport)

Budget for Food & Drinks (per day in USD): Included in the daily tariff

Visa Policy for Indians: Visa not required, but must obtain an entry permit to visit Thimpu, Paro & Haa Valley.

Visa Policy for Other Nationals: Visa required, facilitated through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator

Getting In Bhutan: Paro International Airport (PBH) Read More

Getting Around Bhutan: Government-approved vehicles, limited public transport, trekking for some regions Read More

"The Happiest Country in the World"

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 region. A remote kingdom that still clings to its Buddhist culture but embraces modernization, Bhutan is a land of beautiful valleys, snow-clad mountain views, and lush greenery. Bhutan's rich cultural heritage is reflected in its ancient monasteries, intricate temples, and colorful festivals.

Bhutan's main tourist hubs include the capital town of Thimphu and the beautiful city of Paro. Apart from these, Bhutan is known for its iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched dramatically on a cliffside, and the Punakha Dzong, a majestic fortress with stunning architecture and many trekking routes. 

Bhutan is a unique country as it's the only country in the world that measures success in terms of Gross National Happiness, prioritizing the well-being of its citizens over material wealth. Because of this, Bhutan has attracted tourists from around the globe due to its warm hospitality and ever-smiling approach to guests. The colorful clothing, festivals, and hearty food is a testament to their way of life in these misty mountains where resources are scarce, but enthusiasm is not.

You can explore the magnificent dzongs (fortresses) that serve as religious and administrative centers throughout the country. The country also offers adventure activities such as trekking, hiking, rafting, and even archery competitions for those who enjoy them. The treks in Bhutan are of varying difficulty, but they all offer a fantastic experience coupled with their untouched vegetation and age-old attractions.

Must Know Before You Travel to Bhutan

Indian nationals traveling to Bhutan do not require a visa but must obtain an entry permit to visit Thimpu, Paro & Haa Valley. 

Read more about Permits for Bhutan

Documents needed to get a permit

  • The Pedestrian Terminal at Jaigaon-Phuentsholing border operates 24/7. Daily visitors to Phuentsholing don't need an entry permit; an online pre-registration system generates a QR code for presenting at immigration, but staying beyond 24 hours incurs SDF.
  • Other entry/exit points on the southern Indo-Bhutan border include Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar, and Sarpang/Gelephu. 
Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) and  Minimum Daily Package Rate (MDPR) 
  • Bhutan levies fees depending on the number of nights you plan to stay there and your nationality. In Bhutan, the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a component of the Minimum Daily Package Rate (MDPR). The MDPR includes various costs such as accommodation, meals, transportation, guide services, and the SDF. Read more about the SDF & MDPR charges
Visa Policy
  • Read more about Bhutan Visa
  • It is now not mandatory to join an organized tour to visit Bhutan. However, it is still highly recommended. Only in case of sightseeing, guest is required to have guide and vehicle. Before the pandemic, this was mandatory for everyone except for travelers from India, Bangladesh, and Maldives. 
Vehicle Permit
  • Indian vehicles enter zones free but face Nu 4,500/day Green Tax beyond Rinchending Check Post; must register on CPMS with original driving license, registration, insurance, and emission certificates.

Best time to visit Bhutan

The best times to visit Bhutan are March to May (Spring) and September to November (Autumn).  Spring features pleasant weather, blooming flowers, and lush landscapes. Autumn offers crisp air and stunning Himalayan views. Avoid the monsoon season (June to August) due to heavy rainfall and possib... (Read More)

Holidify's opinion on Travel to Bhutan

What's Great about Travelling to Bhutan?

World's first carbon-negative country
Picturesque surroundings
Rich cultural history
Peaceful and Safe Environment
Not crowded

What's Not So Great about Travelling to Bhutan?

Daily Tariffs & Expensive
Difficult to reach with limited connectivity
Bad weather between December and February

Who should Travel to Bhutan?

Nature lovers. Pilgrims. People are fascinated by cultural history.
It is great for people from Indians, Bangladesh & Maldives as it's cheaper for them. 
Great if you love scenic beauty without a lot of people.

Read More on Bhutan Travel

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.

Read more on Currency of Bhutan

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.
Read more on Religion and it's Culture of Bhutan

Tips for visiting Bhutan

  • 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 so it's advised to stay alert for any symptoms.
  • 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 gloves 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.
Here are some more facts about bhutan. 

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.

How to Get a Bhutan Permit?

Issued at Department of Immigration at the Pedestrian Terminal in Phuentsholing.
To acquire the permit, travelers must present:
  • a valid Indian Passport with a minimum of six months validity
  • or an Original Voter ID card.
  • For children below 18 years, a birth certificate (in English) or passport is required, accompanied by a legal guardian.
  • Additionally, two passport-size photographs are necessary.
  • It's advisable for tourists to have travel insurance for the duration of their stay, which can be purchased from Bhutanese insurance providers at the Pedestrian Terminal.

SDF & MDPR Charges

    • For citizens of India - you need to pay Rs. 1200 (approximately 15 USD) per night. Before the pandemic, Indians were exempted from this fee. 
    • For citizens of Bangladesh & Maldives, you need to pay USD 100 per person per night, but the process of applying for a visa is both online or in person at the time of arrival. Before the pandemic, these nationals were also exempted from this fee. 
    • For citizens of all other countries worldwide, you must pay the following amounts to get the visa. And you must apply for the visa beforehand, either online or through a local travel agency.
    • Organized groups: 375 to 475 USD per person per day
      Couples: around 475 to 500 USD per person per day
      Solo travelers: 450 to 600 USD per day

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Photos of Bhutan


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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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