Bhutan Trip Notes


Last Modified: 21 Jan 2013
Trip code: HNKB
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Distinctive and remote, Bhutan offers beauty, history and adventure by the bucketload. Make your way to delightful Thimphu - the world´s only capital city without traffic lights. Head out into the countryside and marvel at the spectacular Himalayan scenery, visit imposing dzongs and learn the Buddhist traditions of the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Meet the relaxed local people, see the extraordinary 'Tiger's Nest' monastery and soak up this privileged travel experience.
Please note that for 2013 this tour will begin in Thimphu, instead of Paro.
Passengers will be picked up at Paro airport (the only international airport in Bhutan) and transferred to the Thimpu hotel; a travel time of just over an hour.
As accommodation in Bhutan is quite simple and facilities not what would be expected on a Comfort style Intrepid trip (as printed in the 2012 brochure), this trip has been re-categorised as an Original style trip. The actual accommodation standard or services provided on the ground have not changed at all from 2011 to 2012, but just to better meet expectations this trip is now categorised as an Original style trip. Please note that the majority of the high cost of this trip is due to the daily Bhutan tourist visa that we are obliged to pay as part of this tour cost.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesVisas
ThemesGroup sizeIssues on your trip
MapYour fellow travellersWhat to take
ItinerarySingle travellersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationSafety
Culture shock rating Meals introductionTravel insurance
Physical ratingMealsResponsible Travel
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point instructionsFeedback
TippingEmergency contact
Departure taxEmergency funds
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Paro
Kuzuzangpo La! Welcome to Bhutan.
You are met on arrival in Paro and transferred to the hotel (transfers cannot be arranged on arrival, please advise flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to departure).
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 18:00. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. Our leader will run through a briefing of the trip with essential facts and practical information about Bhutan.
Should you wish to arrive earlier additional accommodation can be arranged when booking this trip.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Thimphu
After breakfast we set off by private vehicle to Thimphu (approx 1hour).
Thimphu contrasts sharply with just about every other capital city throughout the world. It is a town without traffic lights, where no cars existed until 1962 and where all stores on the upper lane are closed on a Tuesday and on the lower lane are closed on a Wednesday to give business people a rest from their capitalist pursuits. Although people have lived in and farmed the valley and hills bordering the Thimphu Chhu for many years, the town did not really develop until it became the capital city in 1961. Even then, population growth was not huge until it began to really increase in the 1990s.
Dominating the town is the majestic fortress of Tashichhodzong, seat of parliament and office of the king. It's sometimes possible to meet the nuns at the Drubthob Lhakhang and make a stop at the tiny zoo to see Bhutan's national animal, the takin.
Included Activities
  • Folk and Heritage Museum
  • Thimpu - National Library
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Punakha
We set off for Thimphu sightseeing including a visit to the National Library, containing a priceless collection of Buddhist manuscripts, and the fascinating Folk and Heritage Museum. We also visit the golden-spired Memorial Chorten, built in honour of late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, father of the present monarch.
You can explore local handicrafts in a traditional handmade-paper factory and discover the sacred art of thangkas at the Painting School. The Women's Textile Museum houses numerous artistic works by Bhutanese women and you can't go past the National Handicrafts Emporium for a keepsake or two.
In the afternoon we drive from Thimphu to Punakha (approx. 3-4 hrs). After passing through the Honsho checkpoint, the road climbs up through maple and blue pine forests to the Dochu La Pass (3,100 m). Here, if the sky is clear, we catch spectacular views of the Bhutan Himalayas. According to Bhutanese myths, the area around the pass is holy and inhabited by a variety of spirits.
As we begin our descent from the pass, we can note the change in vegetation. Maples and pines give way to rhododendrons, cypress, hemlock and fir. Also prominent is the daphne, related to our laurel and used for paper-making. We will make stops along the way and stroll into the forests to identify the many regional plants.
Towards the evening we will visit the legendary Chimi Lhakhang, also known as the 'temple of the divine madman', after the Lama Drukpa Kunley who introduced a new way of Buddhist practice during his era and is associated with the phallic symbols used on Bhutanese houses as talismans.
After breakfast on day 4 we take a picnic lunch and set off to visit the Khamsum Yueling Temple, north of Punakha. We walk for an hour through a beautiful pastoral setting to reach this hillside temple. This is also a lovely opportunity for some farmhouse visits and to have our lunch by the riverside. After lunch we visit Punakha Dzong (fortress), built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This building was the second of Bhutan's dzongs and its creation was foretold by Guru Rimpoche. We explore the site and discover the story behind the tri-partitioned stairs.
Even today the monks of the central clergy, led by the Je Khanpo, still migrate from Thimphu to spend the six coldest months of the year at Punakha. The city is built at the confluence of the Mo Chhu (Mother River) and the Po Chhu (Father River) and is fertile enough to provide farmers with two rice crops a year.
Included Activities
  • Chimmi Lhakhang
  • Dzong tour
  • Punakha - Punakha Dzong
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 5 Gangte
We make the beautiful drive to Gangte (approx. 2-3 hrs) and visit the extensive 450-year-old Gangte Goemba. We also take the opportunity to explore the Phobjikha Valley region on a nature walk (approx 2 hours).
Included Activities
  • Explore Phobjikha Valley region
  • Gangte - Gangtey Goemba Monastery
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 6-8 Paro
We drive back to Paro (approx. 6 hrs), arriving in the late afternoon. Home to Bhutan's unusual red rice, the Paro Valley is also famous for its fruit - strawberries, apples, pears, plums and peaches. The main street of the town centre, built in 1985 and therefore quite new, runs parallel to the Paro Chhu River. If time permits, you can poke through the many handicraft shops, visit the archery field or simply roam around to get a sense of the place.
Among the sites we tour on day 7 is the Ta Dzong, a circular fortress that once protected the valley from Tibetan invaders. Currently this old watchtower is being used as the National Museum and is filled with a beautiful collection of antiquities. From the Ta Dzong we walk down the hill to Paro Rinpung Dzong, a magnificent 17th-century fortress-monastery that now houses the civil and religious offices of the Paro Valley.
Towards evening we drive up to the ruins of the Drugyal Dzong. The name commemorates the Bhutanese victory over Tibet in 1644. In those days, the dzong had a false entrance, designed to lure invaders into an enclosed courtyard. Although a butter lamp caught fire and destroyed the temple in 1951, the ruins are still fascinating.
Our trek to the Taktshang Monastery is a big highlight. The hike up to the viewing point on day 7 takes about one hour approx and the monastery that clings to the cliff face is awe-inspiring. Known as the 'Tiger's Nest Monastery', Taktsang is a sacred pilgrimage site where, legend has it, the great Tantric mystic, Padmasambhava, flew on the back of a tigress and brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan. The Monastery clings to a cliff soaring 900 metres above the valley floor. Taktsang was destroyed in a fire in 1998 but restoration works are now almost complete.
We take lunch at a cafeteria on the way and then proceed up to the monastery itself. Because the route is quite steep we return slowly, walking downhill for about one or two hours. Heading back into Paro, we stop at one of the oldest and most important of Bhutan's temples - the wonderful old Kyichu Lhakhang, with its magnificent statues and carvings. Kyichu is one of the few remaining temples built in the 8th century by the great King Songtsen Gampo.
Please note that entrance to the Taktshang Monastery is by permit only - we apply for this permit as part of the trip but on rare occasions the permit is not granted which means we will not be able to enter the Monastery.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Included Activities
  • Bumthang Valley - Kyichu Lhakhang
  • Paro - Tadzong Museum & Trongsa Dzong
  • Paro - Tiger's Nest Monastery
Hotel (2 nts)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Bangkok - Paro One Way (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Bangkok - Paro Return (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Delhi to Paro One Way (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Delhi to Paro Return (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Kathmandu - Paro One Way (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Kathmandu - Paro Return (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Paro - Bangkok One Way (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Paro - Kathmandu One Way (HNKB)
  • HNKB - Druk Air Flight Paro to Delhi One Way (HNKB)
  • HNKB Single supplement (HNKB)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website:
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
    Money Exchange
    Don´t rely on credit and ATM card usage in Bhutan. There are no ATMs in Bhutan, so it is best to take either USD cash or Indian Rupees (INR) to Bhutan. Traveller's cheques are difficult to exchange.
    The Bhutan Ngultrum (BTN) is valueless outside of Bhutan so make sure that you change back all excess Bhutanese currency before you leave.
    For personal expenses, please take USD / Euro / GBP / Indian Rupees in cash, which in turn can be changed into the local currency, Nu, on arrival at the airport and in hotels. Don't forget to take the receipt if you´re exchanging the money at the airport. Without the receipt, it can be difficult to change remaining Bhutanese Nu back to foreign currency. Also note that there are variable rates for bigger foreign currency notes and currency notes of smaller denominations. Higher denominations get you better exchange rate.
    Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Hotels / Restaurants: USD 0.50 - 1 for porters and restaurant staff
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$ 1-2 per person, per day is generally appropriate.
    Local transport: For a city tour we suggest US$ 1 per person, per day.
    Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$ 2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    At the time of booking you MUST provide Intrepid with your full name, sex, date of birth, nationality, passport number & date of issue / expiry, plus a scanned copy of your passport, your email address and your contact number while in Bhutan.
    If you have not booked flights to Bhutan with Intrepid, we will also require your flight details to finalise the visa process. Intrepid will then forward you the scanned copy of your Bhutan Group visa approx. 2 weeks prior to your trip start date.
    You must show the copy of your Bhutan Group visa at the check-in for your flight to Bhutan and on arrival at the immigration in Bhutan where you will have your Bhutan visa stamped into your passport.
    Please be aware that Bhutan's national carrier Druk Air is renowned for last minute changes to the timetable for flights in and out of Bhutan. Druk Air is the only airline allowed to fly into Bhutan (Paro) so it is important to book your flights in / out of Bhutan as soon as possible as we cannot refund this trip if you are unable to obtain flights. Timetables are available on the Druk Airlines website:
    As mentioned Druk Air flight schedules are subject to change and Intrepid hold no responsibility for delay, cancellation or unavailability of flight or missed connections.
    Please note there may be times during your visit to Bhutan when the use of video and / or still cameras may be inappropriate. Local people may consider that filming is too intrusive and in these circumstances we will request that you do not film.
    At all times be aware and sensitive to the impact of photography and seek permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse.
    Additional accommodation nights are available in Paro; enquire with your booking agent. Any additional accommodation must be booked with Intrepid to ensure the validity of your Bhutan group visa issued by Intrepid. Please note that the pre/post accommodation is also subject to the daily Bhutan tourist visa tariff.
    Please book any extra accommodation well in advance so that there are no complications with the group visa details.
    As accommodation in Bhutan is quite simple and facilities not what would be expected on a Comfort style Intrepid trip (as printed in the 2012 brochure), this trip has been re-categorised as an Original style trip. The actual accommodation standard or services provided on the ground have not changed at all from 2011 to 2012, but just to better meet expectations this trip is now categorised as an Original style trip. Please note that the majority of the high cost of this trip is due to the daily Bhutan tourist visa that we are obliged to pay as part of this tour cost.
    Please note that for 2013 this tour will begin in Thimphu, instead of Paro.
    Passengers will be picked up at Paro airport (the only international airport in Bhutan) and transferred to the Thimpu hotel; a travel time of just over an hour.
    Group size
    Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Hotel (7 nts)
    Please note that accommodation in Bhutan can be very simple and infrastructure is not what it is in other parts of Asia, such as electricity and water being very sporadic.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    USD 200.00
    Joining point instructions
    Due to the complexities of the Tourism industry in Bhutan, the start point hotel may be changed at late notice. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.
    An arrival transfer is included for this trip - please advise your agent of details
    Pre and post trip accommodation is available and the cost includes the daily Bhutan tourist fee and visa costs.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
    No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
    Finish point instructions
    Your trip concludes with a complimentary transfer to the Paro Airport. Please advise your agent of your flight details.
    Emergency contact
    In the event of a genuine crisis or emergency in Bhutan, we can be reached on:
    - Tel: Balaram +9779851068827
    - Niraj: +977 9851023167
    - Dil: +9779841231506
    For further contact details please use the following page:
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    All nationalities require a visa for entry to Bhutan, except Indian nationals holding a valid Indian passport. Visas must be obtained in advance.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change. It is important that you check for yourself.
    You must provide Intrepid at the time of booking with your full name, sex, date of birth, nationality, passport number & date of issue / expiry, plus a scanned copy of your passport, your email address and a contact number for you when you are in Bhutan.
    If you have not booked flights to Bhutan with Intrepid, we will also require your flight details to finalise the visa process.
    Intrepid will then forward you the scanned copy of your Bhutan Group visa shortly prior to your trip start date.
    You must show the copy of your Bhutan Group visa at the check-in for your flight to Bhutan and on arrival at the immigration in Bhutan where you will have your Bhutan visa stamped into your passport.
    PLEASE NOTE: If you are flying in and out of Paro via India, please check what visa you need for India. If you plan to spend time travelling in India on your way to Bhutan (or vice versa), please be aware you will generally need a tourist visa (rather than a transit visa); and tourist visas currently need to have a gap of 2 months between visits. Please check the limitations on Indian visas if you plan to spend time in India on the way to Paro. Please also be aware that currently the maximum amount of time allowed for passenger transiting via an India airport for a connecting flight is 18 hours. Note that this information can change at any time and you will need to check this information for yourself.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    Dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 856.00 kgs per pax.
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.