You can’t help but fall in love with a country that measures its success in units of Happiness, scrawls phalluses on every available wall and prefers white-gloved cops to traffic lights.

Welcome to Bhutan! A tiny Himalayan Kingdom where things are done differently (and awesomely) in equal measure. By law, 60% of the whole country is protected national forest, and it actually absorbs more carbon that it uses, which makes Bhutan tours perfect for trekkers, monastery-lovers, Buddhist pilgrims and the merely curious. Our local guides will lead you up to the Tiger’s Nest, introduce you to monks in the prayer halls of Gangte Goemba and show you where to find Paro’s hottest ema datshi (chili novices, watch your step!).

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Articles on Bhutan

Bhutan travel highlights

Transport in Bhutan

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Bhutan, you may find yourself travelling by:

Minivan transport in Bhutan for 6-8 people

Minibus

Getting around in Bhutan can be difficult due to the elements and lack of sealed roads and public transport options. So when you’re not hiking, expect to travel by minibus.

Nepal & Bhutan Journey

Bhutan Discovered

Bhutan holiday information

At a glance

Best time to visit Bhutan

Culture and customs

Eating and drinking

Geography and environment

History and government

Top Picks

Shopping

Festivals and events

Health and safety

Further reading

Bhutan travel FAQs

All nationalities require a visa for Bhutan. Travellers can only enter Bhutan as part of a group visa on a tour. Independent visas are not issued. The cost of the visa is included in your tour.

Please provide your booking agent with the following at time of booking in order for us to apply for your group visa:

- scanned colour copy of the photo page of your passport (consisting of both the flip pages)
- full name as per passport
- gender
- date of birth
- nationality
- passport number & date of issue/expiry,
- email address you will access while travelling
- arrival and departure flight details

Due to the controlled nature of travel in Bhutan the group visa can only be submitted once we have the above details from ALL travellers in the group. Failure to advise any of the information as above can slow the visa issuing process and delay the visa for the whole group. Generally visas are issued within 5 days of departure and as close as 48 hours prior to travel into the country. We will send your group visa to your travelling email address. Please print this visa and carry with you as you will need it at time of boarding your Bhutan flight.

You must show the copy of your Bhutan group visa at the check-in for your flight to Bhutan and on arrival at immigration in Bhutan where you will have a Bhutan entry stamp placed into your passport.

Tipping isn’t compulsory in Bhutan, but many people who work in tourism are accustomed to receiving tips so it's wise to set aside a small amount to show your appreciation for drivers, cooks and other service workers.

You will be able to find some internet cafes in Thimphu and Paro. Most large hotels also have internet access. As expected, rural and remote areas will have limited to no internet access.

You will be able to use your mobile phone in some of Bhutan’s cities, although more remote areas may not have network coverage. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your mobile carrier before you leave home if you wish to use your mobile while in Bhutan.

You will have to adjust to different standards of hygiene and sanitation while in Bhutan. The standard toilet is of the squat variety and this may take some getting used to, although western style, flushable toilets can be found in large hotels and some tourist areas.

Due to Bhutan’s unique tourism regulations, all meals are included for all travel within Bhutan. Use local currency to buy small items like snacks and soft drinks and use US dollars to buy larger items like souvenirs. Expect to pay:

Prayer flags = US$1
Hand made coin purse = US$5-10
Gofur (wooden bowl) = US$10-15
Ceremonial mask = US$20-40

Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Bhutan. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. Ask your leader where filtered water can be found, some hotels we stay in may have drinking water available. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.

International credit cards are not widely accepted in Bhutan. Some souvenir shops may have credit card facilities; however, credit cards aren't generally accepted elsewhere. Be prepared by carrying enough cash to cover your purchases.

ATMs are very rare in Bhutan. Be sure to carry enough cash to cover your purchases as you won’t be able to rely on ATM or credit card access.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

A group of young monks dressed in traditional clothing, Bhutan

Top responsible travel tips for Bhutan

  1. Be considerate of Bhutan’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
  2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
  3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
  4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully.
  5. Don’t light up! Tobacco products are banned in Bhutan, so avoid bringing them into the country as penalties apply and smoking in public is not accepted.
  6. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
  7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
  8. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
  9. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
  10. Religious iconography is everywhere in Bhutan in the form of stupas, mani stones, shrines and temples. Always show respect for these religious objects by avoiding sitting or posing in front of them.
  11. Show respect for Bhutan’s current and former king when conversing with local people.
  12. As a sign of respect, place a small donation in the donation box while visiting monasteries.