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).
Experience Bhutanese art and culture in the museums of Thimphu
Be transported to another world on the streets of peaceful Paro
Be awestruck by panoramic views of the Bhutan Himalaya
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:
Getting around in Bhutan can be difficult due to the elements and lack of sealed roads. So when you’re not hiking, expect to travel in a minibus.
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Bhutan you may find yourself staying in a:
Intrepid prefers smaller character-filled hotels then hotel chains. When staying in Bhutan, enjoy staying in small hotels and guesthouses owned and run by friendly locals.
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.
Travel in Bhutan is strictly controlled and to do any independent travel outside of a group tour is extremely difficult and expensive to arrange. We provide a group visa for travellers on our tours in Bhutan, which stipulates that all travellers must arrive and depart on the same days that our tour program starts and finishes. For this reason we are generally not able to provide additional accommodation outside of our tour dates and advise all travellers to book flights in and out of Bhutan that correspond with the start and finish day of the tour. In the rare case that no flights are available and you need to arrive earlier or depart later we are only able to book additional accommodation for you in conjunction with a special individual visa which can add around AUD1000 to the cost of your tour, to be paid at the time of booking.
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, 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
Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in Bhutan go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/bhutan/public-holidays
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.