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Destination BHUTAN- Mountains and Magic

Bhutan is a peaceful country with strong traditional values based on religion, respect for the royal family and care for the environment. Located in the magnificent Himalayas, Bhutan is also named as ‘The Land of Peaceful Thunder Dragon’ due to the regular feature of storms in the Himalayan region. Spread over 18,146 miles, Bhutan offers breathtaking mountain views, incredible scenic beauty, exciting wildlife and a rich culture and lifestyle which Bhutanese people still strives to preserve in the face of modernity. Explore the distinctive Bhutan architecture, Buddhist monasteries, carved wooden houses and the fine crafts on your tour to Bhutan.
General Information – BHUTAN

Country Official Name: Kingdom of Bhutan(Druk Gyal Khab, meaning the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon).

Land area 38,394 sq km.
Population Approximately 672,425 (according to the 2005 census)
Capital Thimphu
GMT GMT +6 hrs

Climate The climate in Bhutan varies with altitude, from subtropical in the south to temperate in the highlands and polar – type climate, with year-round snow, in the north. Bhutan experiences five distinct seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter and spring. Western Bhutan has the heavier monsoon rains; southern Bhutan has hot humid summers and cool winters; central and eastern Bhutan is temperate and drier than the west with warm summers and cool winters. Temperatures vary according to elevation. Temperatures in Thimphu, located at 2,200 meters (7,218 ft) above sea level in west-central Bhutan, range from approximately 15 to 26 °C (59 to 78.8 °F) during the monsoon season of June through September but drop to between about -4 and 16 °C (24.8 and 60.8 °F) in January. Most of the central portion of the country experiences a cool, temperate climate year-round. In the south, a hot, humid climate helps maintain a fairly even temperature range of between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F) year-round, although temperatures sometimes reach 40 °C (104 °F) in the valleys during the summer.Required Clothing:With great altitudinal variations weather is quite erratic in Bhutan. So be prepared to brace the erratic weather as you step outdoor. We expect visitors to dress modestly and respectfully especially if you are planning a visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institutions. As a mark of respect, be kind enough to remove your hats, caps etc. as you enter religious and administrative premises, institutions and in any other place that you come across with the national flag being raised.

Airport Paro International Airport, the only airport in Bhutan is a 2-hour drive away from the capital of Bhutan and is served by Druk Air, the only airline connecting Bhutan.

Entry Requirements Other than Indian and Bangladeshi nationals all visitors require a Visa to Bhutan; all visas are issued from Thimpu ; visas are issued only to tourists booked with a local licensed Tour Operator, directly, or through a foreign travel agent..Applications for the tourist visa are submitted by the tour operator.Visa clearance from Thimpu must be obtained before visting Bhutan.Visa clearance takes atleast ten days to process.Air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased without Visa clearance.

Currency Bhutan’s unit of currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.), with 100 Chetrum = 1 Ngultrum. The Ngultrum is fixed to the value of the Indian rupee

Language Dzongkha is official national language using chhokey (Tibetan script) used for written expression. Ngalopkha (on which Dzongkha is based) is spoken in west; Sharchopkha in east; Nepali is used in the southern part of Bhutan.

Tipping Ten percent service charge is generally automatically added to the bill by hotels and restaurants, but since this goes to the establishment, you might add an extra ten percent tip to the bill for the person who serves you. A daily tip is also expected by chauffeurs and guides but there is no fixed amount here. Those showing you around sacred places such as monasteries will expect a small tip. One thing you should keep in mind is never to hand over money to monks, which is considered inappropriate. Place the money in the donation box found at most temple /monasteries premises. Tipping for other services is not generally expected, unless someone has really gone out of his or her way to help you and you feel that a tip is the least you can do.

Opening Hours Office hours in Bhutan are divided into two timings – the summer timing and the winter timing. The summer timing begins at 9AM Bhutan standard time and goes on till 5Pm in the evening. The summer timing is followed from March till the end of October. The winter timing that lasts for the months of November till the end of February begins at 9AM in the morning till 4 PM in the evening. However, these timings are followed only in Thimphu and few other Districts. These timing is followed only by the Civil Servants who work under the Royal Civil Service Commission. For those people employed in Corporations and private organizations, the timings are usually from 9AM till 5PM irrespective of the season.

Electricity All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. The energy is clean and green energy generated by hydro power.

Photography Bhutan is an ideal place and a frequent haunt for photographers offering immense opportunities for photography especially during the outdoor sightseeing trips. However you may need to check with your guide for indoor photography as taking photographs inside Dzongs, temples, monasteries and religious institutions are restricted unless you have a special permission from the Department of Culture. One can however, capture images of the landscapes, the panoramic views of the mountain ranges, the rural folk life, the flora and fauna, the Bhutanese architecture and the Dzongs and Chortens in particular.

Communications: The country has a good network of telecommunication facilities. Almost every town has an internet cafe and IDD calling booths from where you can log on to and send messages home and to your loved ones. Also most hotels in Thimphu and Paro have internet access. Mobile (cell) phone is also widely used with international roaming facilities.

Health and Medical information Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, it is advisable to have tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A inoculations.

Customs: Arrival/Departure & Additional Information: Visitors are required to complete a passenger declaration form for checking by concerned officers on arrival. The following articles are exempt from duty:(a) Personal effects and articles for day-to-day use by the visitor.(b) 2 liters of alcohol (spirits or wine).(c) Instruments, apparatus of appliances for professional use.(d) Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use.The articles mentioned under (c) & (d) must be declared on the declaration form. If any such items are disposed off in Bhutan by sale or gift, they are liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to surrender their forms to the Customs authorities.

Import/export of the following goods is strictly prohibited:
(a) Arms, ammunition and explosives.

(b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs.

(c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species.

(d) Antiques.
Import of plants, soil etc are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival. Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items; especially of religious or cultural significance as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.

Additional Information: While safety is not much of a concern, however it is good to come prepared for any mishap. One need to avoid walking alone or roaming the streets after 9 pm as you may never know of any mishap that may occur. The capital city has begun to see burglaries, street fights and an increasing number of drug abusers. It is advisable that you keep a safe distance and be in your rooms. Or else you may visit the town in groups or with your guides.Also please ensure that your belongings especially your passports, route permits, cameras, wallets and purses are properly secured. There have been incidents where visitors found their important documents missing.

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