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Claire Farley, Managing Director
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
Call 01582 766122

Travel guide to Bhutan

Passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date and have two blank facing pages. If you do not have this, you may be denied boarding at your departure airport. Soiled, damaged or defaced passports will not be accepted.
British, European & USA citizens must have a visa approved in advance from Thimphu, and obtained through your tour operator.
There are no compulsory health requirements when visiting Bhutan, but check with your doctor regarding the risks of high-altitude travel. Malaria tablets are not usually recommended, but check with your doctor. As dengue fever is present, a good insect repellent and anti-histamine are also advised. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. You should be up to date with your primary courses and boosters. Always check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before travel for any other inoculations recommended (eg Hepatitis A+B, Cholera, Diphtheria, Tatanus, Typhoid, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies and TB). There is no yellow fever in Bhutan.
Ngultrum (Nu or BTN), which is pegged to the Indian Rupee. You won't need much cash, as all tours are prepaid, but take enough to cover drinks, laundry, souverirs & tips, as cash machines are often unreliable. Unspent ngultrums can be changed into US dollars on departure from Paro airport.  Indian Rupee notes below 500 can also be freely used in Bhutan.
Dzongkha is the national language. Tshanglakha and Lhotshamkha are the two other major languages.
Time Zone
GMT +6 hrs
Travel Tips
To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart. 
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights. 
Baggage – if your itinerary includes a domestic flight, your luggage is often restricted to 15 kg, after which excess baggage charges apply. 
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen. 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security, as any device that does not switch on cannot be check and may need to be surrendered. 
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and if you plan to use travel apps such as Google Translate or Google Maps, ensure you check your data package with your provider in advance. Alternatively turn off date roaming to avoid large phone bills. Be aware that some rural areas may not have mobile or WiFi coverage. 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. 
Clothing – pack in layers according to the season and altitude. Light clothing is the most comfortable in the summer months, although warm clothing is essential in the mountains, where temperatures drop sharply at night. Pack proper walking shoes, a day pack, T-shirts, shorts, fleece, jeans, sunhat, sunglasses, swimming costume and biodegradable sunscreen. A head torch is very useful at night. For temple visits pack long sleeved tops or pashmina to cover your shoulders & long skirts or trousers to cover your knees. Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles and avoid using perfume, as this attracts mosquitoes. Sanitising hand cleaner and eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses & a 'shewee' is invaluable for ladies. Rain gear will be needed during the monsoon season. 
Medicines - if you travel with prescription drugs, carry an adequate supply in their original bottles/packaging & keep them in your hand luggage, as if lost they may be difficult to replace. 
Accessories – pack your phone (with charger and a spare battery pack), camera (with spare memory cards and batteries), torch and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). 
Plugs – type D (small round 3-pin), F and G (UK). Pack a universal adapter as well as a hand basin plug/stopper, as these are not always provided. 
Books – pack a good travel guide, with information on the wildlife and birds of the region. Also a good supply of reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights. 
Water – be fastidious and only drink bottled water. Avoid washed salads, local yoghurt, ice cream and ice cubes outside your hotel, as tap water is not safe to drink. Peel all fruit before eating it and remember to brush your teeth with bottled water. Pack diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets for emergencies. 
Food – Rice is the staple food, accompanied by side dishes of meat or vegetables. Spicy stew is also popular. 
Shopping – bargaining is not part of Bhutan culture, except with vendors on the trail to Taktshang & in the handicraft section of the Thimphu Weekend Market. Almost all shops have fixed prices, which are generally higher compared to other countries in the region. 
Safety – take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash, passport and a spare credit card in your hotel safe. 
Respect Local Customs – this is a Buddhist country, so respect religious images and dress modestly away from your hotel. Always cover your shoulders and knees when visiting temples, and remove your shoes when entering houses and shrines. You can take photos outside temples, but never inside. Always move in a clockwise direction & don’t speak loudly. Leave a small offering of money. If a monk pours holy water into your hand, you should drink it (or pretend to) and spread the rest on your head from front to back. Never open a gift in public or in front of the person who gave it to you, and always return the container with some fruit, bread or sweets in it. Bhutanese will refuse a gift three timed before accepting it (they are not being rude). Even if you are a tourist, you are expected to refuse something at least once. Avoid overt displays of affection, and do not point your feet at anyone as this is considered rude.  
At high altitude take precautions against altitude sickness (i.e. moderate alcohol, walk slowly and drink plenty of water). 
Wild Animals – attacks by wild animals are rare, but we cannot guarantee that attacks will not occur so observe all sensible precautions. We cannot be held responsible for injuries caused during an incident with a wild animal. 
Indemnities - please be aware it is likely you will be required to sign indemnities for any potentially hazardous activities. 
Pack for a Purpose - if you have a little space in your suitcase, local schools & communities always appreciate gifts of English reading books, pens & pencils, stationery, deflated footballs etc. Specific requests from communities can be seen on the 'Pack for a Purpose' website. 
Tipping – this is not compulsory but appreciated, with "small but often” being a useful guide. We suggest the following per couple: 
- guides: $10 per day. 
- drivers: $6 per day. 
- trekking porters: $8 per day. 
- waiters: 10% (if not already added to your bill). 
- porters: Nu 300-500, depending in number of bags. 
It is not necessary to tip drivers doing short transfers (eg to the airport). 
FCO Travel Advice - consult the UK Foreign Office website for the latest travel advice www.fco.gov.uk.