While perhaps not as well- known as other tourist destinations, Bhutan offers many exciting things to see and do.
Bhutan, or the Kingdom of Bhutan, is found in the southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas and is a country of peace.
Rich with culture and tradition, it is known for ancient temples fortresses, breathtaking valleys and mountains, and its ties to Buddhism and bringing peace to the world.
As it is a smaller country with a population of roughly 8,000, Bhutan relies on its tourism to help sustain its community. For those who wish to slow down and enjoy a more thoughtful way to live, Bhutan is a great place to visit.
This Bhutan travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Power voltage is 230V at 50 Hz.
- Bhutan’s currency is the Ngultrum, and 1 Ngultrum is equal to 0.015 USD. You can check up to date prices at XE Currency Converter.
- Traveling with a tour guide or walking is considered the best way to get around Bhutan.
- Only India, Maldives and Bangladesh citizens are exempt from getting a visa for Bhutan.
- Foreigners must use a licensed tour operator to arrange for visas and travel to Bhutan.
- You need a tourist visa to enter Bhutan and must obtain one before booking a flight there.
- A daily fee is also charged in Bhutan. It is usually wrapped into the cost of a tour to Bhutan. Each tourist fee amounts to $250 USD per day ($200/ day for low season)
- The most popular cellular networks in Bhutan are Bmobile and TashiCell, and you can purchase a SIM card from either.
- Bhutan has a tax rate of 50% for common goods and services.
- When booking a flight to Bhutan, you will be able to choose from a variety of tour packages. These packages provide all meals, transportation, and accommodation during your trip.
- Bhutan is a very safe country to visit and you must travel on an organized tour.
- Be prepared for high altitudes and pay attention to symptoms. Chances are you will be doing treks into the Himalaya Mountains and have a very real chance of getting altitude sickness.
Budget – Bhutan offers budget hotels with prices around 1,300 – 2,000 Ngultrums per night.
Mid Range – For mid-range hotels, expect to pay 2,700 – 4,100 Ngultrums per night.
High End – Upscale hotels will cost about 14,000 – 25,000 Ngultrums per night.
Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and Air B&B for the best deals on accommodation in Australia
Food: When eating Bhutan cuisine, prepare for a lot of spice, as it’s essential.
Red rice, buckwheat, and chilis are also staples, typically prepared with chicken or beef and vegetables.
The national dish of Bhutan is Ema Datshi, which is a mixture of chilis and Datshi (the local cheese).
Momos (Tibetan dumplings) are another favorite.
Getting to Bhutan – The Paro international airport is the best airport to get to Bhutan. Direct flights to Bhutan can be booked from Bangkok, Singapore New Delhi and Kolkata, Yangoon and Kathmandu.
Drukair and Bhutan Airlines are the two major airlines that fly into Bhutan from these destinations.
Flights: You can check for the best flights to —- on Skyscanner.
Buses – Buses are a cheap way to get around Bhutan, but are not recommended for most tourists, as they are much rockier than typical bus rides.
But chances are you will be on an organized tour traveling on tour buses
Taxis/Uber: You shouldn't have to use them since you will most likely be utilizing a registered tour operator.
If you decide to use a taxi within town, there are taxis in Paro, Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Jakar
Car Rental: Unless you are very familiar with Bhutan’s roads, it is not recommended to rent your own car, as driving in Bhutan is a very different experience from the US. with mountainous terrain.
You can also compare prices here
Places to Stay
Paro: Le Meridian Paro Riverfront was exceptional and our favorite place to stay in Bhutan. It was a perfect retreat after trekking up to Tiger's Nest Monastery.
Thimphu: Le Meridien Thimphu. An SPG hotel, it was luxurious and central. We could walk to many of the popular eateries.
Phunaka: Dhensa Boutique Resort Bhutan is a physical destination with a lot of trekking and activity. Staying in a boutique resort gave us the energy to recharge. There is a swimming pool, spa, lounge, and restaurant.
Bhutan is located in the Himalaya Mountain Range so expect the weather to change depending on altitude.
Being a Buddhist country be sure to dress modestly and respect the culture. Cover up in temples and when walking around cities.
- Walking/hiking shoes: With so much to explore on foot, make sure to bring a pair of sturdy and comfortable shoes so you can get the most out of your trip.
- Walking stick: As some of the roads and paths can be uneven, a walking stick is recommended to help keep your balance.
- Layers: Pack a merino wool base layer of leggings and upper body, a mid-layer, and an outer waterproof jacket and rain pants.
- Wool hat: It can cool down at night and you will want something warm to wear when the sun goes down.
- Peak Hat: Trekking through the mountains can be quite sunny, cover your head with a good peak hat or Tilly Hat.
- Sunscreen: The sun is strong at altitude, so be sure to protect your skin.
- Chapstick: It can be very dry in Bhutan, chapstick and lotion are good choices.
- Power adapters: As the voltage is much higher in Bhutan than the US, a power adapter will make sure all of your electronics can be plugged in and charged.
- SteriPen: A Water purification system is paramount when traveling Bhutan. We use a SteriPen that can purify water right out of a river, stream or tap within 30 seconds.
See our packing tips: packing tips
When to Go
The best time to visit is between March and May, the springtime.
During this season, you can see some of the best sights of the blooming flowers in the valleys.
If you are planning on going hiking, October to November is another great period to visit, as the skies are relatively clear, and you can get the best views of the Himalayan peaks.
You can find the lowest rates on hotels during June through August, though this is also Bhutan’s rainiest season.
Things to Do
- Trekking – Bhutan is one of the best places on earth to trek. There are several routes to choose from with one day hikes to several weeks.
- We trekked to Laya which was a wonderful four-day trek return.
- Festivals – Bhutan is known as the land of festivals. Be sure to ask what festival is going on while you are there.
- We attended the Highlander Festival, where we met the King!
What not to Miss
- Tiger's Nest Monastery – This is the must-see site in all of Bhutan and is a great day trek up a steep mountain to view this monastery clinging to the side of a cliff.
Tour Company Suggestions
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies.
We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices, not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world's largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling you should always have travel insurance. We do.