Bhutan is best
known to the world today as the last Shangri-La. The few visitors who make the
rare journey into this extraordinary Kingdom will discover that there is no other
destination like this land of pure and exotic mysticism.
It was the mighty
Himalayas, which protected Bhutan from the rest of the world and left the kingdom
blissfully untouched. The Drukpa Kagyu School of Mahayana Buddhism provided the
essence of a rich culture and a fascinating history. The Bhutanese people protected
this sacred heritage and unique identity for centuries by choosing to remain shrouded
deeply in a jealously guarded isolation.
More than 90 per
cent of the 600,000 Bhutanese people are farmers who live in small villages sparsely
scattered over 46,000 km of rugged mountain land. Buddhist teachings and philosophy
play an important role in their peaceful lives.
Today, the quality
of life is dramatically improved ever since a cautious development policy brought
in basic services such as education, health, power, roads and modernized agricultural
Because of a deep traditional reverence
which the Bhutanese have for nature, the kingdom is one of the leading countries
in environmental preservation. More than 65 per cent of the land area is still
under forest cover. Its rich Himalayan flora and fauna, dazzling white peaks and
lush valleys provide Bhutan's stunning beauty and aesthetic grandeur. It is often
said that even the most experienced traveler will find Bhutan to be 'a revelation'.
To the visitor
who respects the delicate sensitivities of this pristine land and shares the sacred
values of its people, Bhutan has now gently opened its doors. In this country
known as Druk Yul, the 'Land of the Peaceful Dragon, the fortunate visitor will
find a rare combination of harmony and accord, amidst a landscape of incredible
natural beauty. The air is clean and unpolluted the mountains magnificent and
the architecture inspiring.
the purpose, a visit to Bhutan is indeed a journey into an enchanted realm.
Facts for the traveler
Bhutan maintains a policy of
strictly limiting the number of people who can visit the country in a single year.
All visitors are charged fixed tariffs for services such as the provision of accommodation,
transport, guides and meals. By doing this, the country is able to earn the foreign
currency that it requires for careful development program's, while at the same
time keeping the number of tourists to a level which does not significantly affect
the natural environment or the lifestyle for the Bhutanese people.
The only way to
visit Bhutan is as a member of a tour group, which is organized through a recognized
travel agency such as Alternative Travels & Tours Pvt. Ltd.
convenient way for tourists to enter Bhutan is by air. Druk Air, the Bhutanese
national airline, operates flights to Paro from Delhi, Calcutta, Bangkok, Dhaka,
Kathmandu and Rangoon.
along the eastern end of the Himalayas, the flight to Paro from Kathmandu offers
remarkable views of the Everest, Makalu and Kanchenjunga, as well as the Bhutanese
peaks of Chomolhari and Gangkar Puensum. Another way to enter is by surface from
Darjeeling to Phuntsholing.
who visits Bhutan requires visas. Our agent will make all arrangements, which
involves relaying visa numbers to the Durk Air office at the airport where the
visitor meets his flight into Bhutan. Without a visa number it is impossible to
board a Druk Air flight. The visas themselves are issued on arrival in Paro.
tour operator in Bhutan will apply for the visa, which will take a minimum of
five working days to process. It is mandatory for tourists to get his visa clearance
from the local operator before departing for Bhutan. The National Airline, Druk
Air, will not issue tickets without the clearance and no visa is entertained upon
visa will be stamped at the port of entry upon payment of the fee of US $ 20.
Two passport photos are required for the visa. The visas can be extended in Thimpu,
for up to six months, at a cost of Nu 510.
unit of currency is the Ngultrum (Nu), with 100 Chetrum is equal to 1 Ngultrum.
The Ngultrum is at par with the Indian rupee. Money should be carried in the form
of travelers cheques, preferably American Express, with a little cash (US dollars)
set aside for incidental expenses on departure and return. (Keep a track of your
travelers' cheque serial numbers). Only American Express credit cards are acceptable
in Bhutan and that too by a limited number of establishments.
are many comfortable hotels and lodges in all districts. Away from the towns and
villages there are purpose-built huts on some of the principal trekking routes.
there is nothing like camping out under the clearest night skies that you might
have ever seen. Wherever you spend the night, the warm Bhutanese hospitality will
make you feel welcomed.
southern part of Bhutan is tropical, and in general the east of Bhutan is warmer
than the west of the country. Winter in Bhutan is from mid-November until mid-March,
and at this time of the year the climate is dry, with day temperatures falling
16-18 degree Celsius and night temperatures falling below zero. The monsoon usually
arrives in mid-June, with the rain falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings.
At the end of September, after the last of the big rains, autumn suddenly arrives-a
magnificent season for trekking-lasting until mid-November.
is the last Mahayana Buddhist kingdom, and the teachings of this school of Buddhism
are a living faith among its people. The air of spirituality is pervasive even
in the urban centers where the spinning of prayer wheels, the murmur of mantras
and the glow of butter lamps in the houses are still important features of everyday
life. Bhutan's religious sites and institutions are not museums, but the daily
home of its people.
of the most striking physical features of Bhutan is its architecture. The characteristic
style and colour of every building and house in the kingdom is a distinct source
of aesthetic pleasure. They Dzongs themselves imposing 17th
century structures built on a grand scale without the help of any drawings and
held without a single nail are outstanding examples of the best in Bhutanese
architecture. Patterns of rich colours adorn every wall, beam pillar, door and
cave in traditional splendor.
visitors are required to complete the customs form upon arrival at Paro. The following
items are exempted from customs duty:
effects for day to day use
of alcohol, 400 cigarettes; 150 gms of pipe tobacco
apparatus or appliances for professional use
equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods.
articles described in c) and d) must be declared on the customs form. If these
items are disposed of in Bhutan, they become liable for customs duty.
Import and export
of arms ammunitions, explosives, narcotics and drugs, and wildlife products are