Tours in Bhutan

Tours in Bhutan INTRODUCTION: BHUTAN TOURS:
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan offers Western and Asian tourist a unique and well preserved culture and heritage of this beautiful country. A majority of the Bhutanese people are of Tibetan origin and follow a sect of Tibetan Buddhism. One of the least densely populated countrries in Aisa, Bhutan offers a charming culture and hospitable people amongst a grand landscape of forested mountains and deep valleys gushing with clear rivers. Visit quaint villages with wooden singled rooms, great fortressed dzongs and Buddhist monasteries as you literally travel back in time.

We offer short 4 to 5 day tours to Bhutan as well as week long tours to experience Bhutan's famous western valleys. The longer Bhutan tours will take you to the central valleys of Bumthang and even to little visited far Eastern towns of Mongar and Tashigang. Join our Group tours to Bhutan or we can arrange customized private tour to Bhutan.

Entry Points to Bhutan

By Air: Paro Airport, located in the mountains, is subject to the vagaries of nature, and weather conditions sometimes prevent flight landing and take off. Druk Air itself has an impeccable safety record, without a single mishap since its inception in 1983.
The easiest way for visitors to enter Bhutan is by air on Druk Air, Bhutan's national carrier and the only airline operating in Bhutan. Druk Air's fleet consists of two British Aerospace jets, BAe 146s, which are specially specially designed for Bhutan.

Flights to Bhutan are available from Bangkok in Thailand, Kathmandu in Nepal, Delhi & Calcutta in India, and Dhaka in Bangladesh several times each week. Latest flight schedules are available on request.

On clear days the flight into Paro offers spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain range, including Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, Chomolhari, Kula Kangri and many other peaks of the Himalayas.

Access to Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan was accessible only by foot through the high passes of Tibet and the plains of India. The construction of a road in the late sixties from Phuntsholing on the Indian border to Thimphu and Paro made travel by car and bus possible. In1983, the first international airport was opened in Paro, 65 km from the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu.
Air Tickets

Druk Air, the national carrier of Bhutan, is the only airline that fly in & out Bhutan's Paro airport. Air tickets will be issued only after your visa is approved by the Home Ministry of Bhutan. To expedite this procedure, it is essential that you send us all passport information required to apply for your Bhutan visa (see below). The air-tickets cannot be issued until the visa is approved - and this process takes a week or more.

By Road:
For those travelling to far Eastern Bhutan there is a option to exit out of the country through the border town of Samdrup Dzonkar to Guwahati Airport in Assam of India. Only exiting out of Bhutan is allowed from here not entry. From Guwahati there are flights available to Calcutta and Delhi.

Tourists wanting to combine a visit to Bhutan with Sikkim & Darjeeling (or other places in India) can enter Bhutan by surface through the border town of Phuentsoling. This is the only other entry point to Bhutan other than flying into Paro airport. In the reverse order visitors can fly into Bhutan and exit by surface to India through Phuentsoling.

Tourist Visas

Tourist visas have to be approved prior to your arrival in Bhutan. With prior approval visas are then issued only on your arrive in the country, either at Paro airport or (if by road) at Phuentsoling. Once your are ready to confirmed your tour arrangements we will apply for your visas. We need the following details in order to start applying for visas for Bhutan.

01: Your full name (Same as in your passport) -
02: Permanent address -
03: Occupation -
04: Nationality -
05: Passport number -
06: Date of issue and expiration of passport -
07: Date and place of birth -

The actual visa is stamped in your passport only upon in Bhutan. You need to pay US$ 20 and present a passport photo with your passport number written on the back. You will then receive a visa for the period of your stay in Bhutan. We will process visa extensions for you if they become necessary.

Place to Stay:
In the major towns such as Thimpu, Paro, and Phuentsoling, comfortable hotels await the visitor, while in smaller towns, modest, but adequate, hotels, lodges and guest houses are available. Your tour agent should ensure that the best available Place to Stay are arranged for you. The Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB), regulates hotel standards and all travel regulations in Bhutan. The cost of the accommodations are included in the tour cost.

Food and Drink

Traditional Bhutanese food is hot and spicy. For our visitors, however, Chinese, Indian, and Continental fares are served. The more adventurous can try the local delicacies like the tasty, ematatshi, the national dish of Bhutan, made with red chillis and cottage cheese. Meals are normally served buffet style in the hotels. On trekking tours, we serve simple but tasty dishes, freshly cooked by our trained cooks.
The daily tour cost includes all meals while in Bhutan as well as other services, including trekking arrangements, as required. Your only extra expenses will be mineral water, liquor, laundry, souvenirs and optional tips to the guide, driver and hotel staff.

Transport
We use comfortable and safe Japanese cars, jeeps, vans and coaches to transport our guests. The cost of transport is already included in the daily tour cost. All our drivers are fully trained in safety and are well experienced in driving in Bhutan. You will find that you are more comfortable driving through the winding hilly roads of Bhutan, where sane driving prevails, and drivers are unusually courteous to each other, unlike in some of the neighboring countries.

Guides

All tourist groups will be accompanied throughout their stay in Bhutan by an English-speaking guide and have a vehicle and driver at your disposal at all times.

All of our guides are trained by the Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB) and licensed by the Government. Our trekking guides and cooks undergoe an additional mountain guide training, including safety and first aid instruction. TAB has received assistance from the Austrian Government in the form of trainers and funds to establish the training programs for tourist guides.

Tourist Seasons

A visit to Bhutan can be planned anytime of the year but the best period is from mid-September to May. The peak seasons, when most visitors come to Bhutan, are during the Spring and Autumn. Spring is from April through June and Autumn from September through November. There are many festivals during these periods, and visitors come to take advantage both of the pleasant climate and the wonderful festivals. However, Bhutan has limited tourism infrastructure and during peak seasons facilities are packed. For those wanting to avoid the busy tourist periods the winter months of December, January, February, are recommended.

Daily Tour Costs

The Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB) regulates all tourism related activities in Bhutan. All tour operators are registered with them, and the TAB also fix the daily tariff rates. Thirty-five percent of the daily cost goes directly to the TAB and hence to the national treasury. These funds are used by the government for the socioeconomic development of Bhutan. Hospitals, schools, and roads are built and maintained with the income. TAB has released a travel information booklet detailing their role and the regulations by which all tour operators are governed.

Contact us for more detaisl, if you have any questions regarding the tour costs. The daily rate may sound high at first, but remember that this includes all your accommodation, all meals, guided tours, and all transportation within Bhutan as per tour itinerary.

When To Join Bhutan Tours:

The best periods for visiting Bhutan are from October to May. In the autumn clear warm days prevail affording the best weather for tours to Bhutan. In the spring mixed weather pattern prevail with clear spells followed by occasional thunder showers and light rain. Spring is best for flowering rhododendrons (which Bhutan is famous for) along with magnolias and other flowering plants. Tours to Bhutan can be planned throughout the winter months. The western valleys of Paro, Thimpu and Punakha is open in winter and the central valleys of Bumthang also open depending on winter show conditions. Some the most interesting times to visit Bhutan is during some of the many Buddhist festivals, which Bhutan is famous for. Click Bhutan Festival Dates and Bhutan Festival Tours for more information.

What to Bring

The following list will cover your needs for a vehicle-based cultural tour. Since you will be travelling in private vehicles, there is less concern about weight than if you were transferring your own luggage on and off various forms of public transport. There is a 20 kg weight limit (30 kg in business class) on Druk Air flights. You should try and keep to this allowance. Even if you are willing to pay for excess baggage, it travels standby and may be offloaded. As with all travel, the less you carry, the easier it is to move about.

Casual clothes are fine, but please also do take along a set of dress-up clothes (jacket and tie for men, dresses for women) for festivals or in the likely event that you are invited to a Bhutanese home or social function. Thimpu and other towns in Bhutan have a small-town atmosphere, and you might easily find yourself in the company of a high government official. If you have scheduled your trip during a festival, you definitely should carry a set of dressy clothing. Bhutanese people dress quite formally, and dirty jeans do not fit-in on such occasions.

Even in the summer, it can be cool in Bhutan, and it is downright cold in winter. Days can be quite warm, especially in the lower regions such as Punakha and Phuentsoling, and you could start off driving in the cold of dawn and be uncomfortably warm by midmorning. Use a layering system, starting with thermal underwear and adding a shirt, pile jacket and wind-breaker (or parka) as necessary. If you are not trekking, you will need:

Underwear (including thermals for cold weather)
Cotton trousers
Cotton skirt for women
Pile jacket or sweater - even in summer
Down jacket - in winter; not needed in summer
T-shirts or short sleeved (not sleeveless) cotton shirts *
Sneakers or walking shoes and socks
Sandals or flip-flops
Rain jacket (Gore-Tex if possible), otherwise a poncho or nylon jacket
Dress-up clothes for festivals

Sun hat
All hotels provide sheets, blankets or quilt, and a pillow. Unless you are trekking, you won't need to carry a sleeping bag. Most hotels also provide some sort of heating in winter, either an electric heater or a wood stove. The heating, plus the pile of blankets on your bed, should keep you warm.

You will be outside a lot, much of the time at altitudes above 2,500 m (7,800 ft); so there is plenty of sun and wind. Bring a supply of sun cream and lip protection, such as Blistex; these items are not available in Bhutan.

Essential Extra
There are several things that you should carry to make a trip to Bhutan more comfortable. All of the following items are essential:

A folding umbrella; especially if traveling during the monsoons. Rain is possible any time, and is almost certain from June through August.

Be sure to carry ear plugs (and spares) to reduce the noise from the barking dogs at night. There are a lot of dogs in Bhutan as the Bhutanese love dogs.

There are occasional electric outages throughout the country; so you should always keep a torch (flashlight) beside your bed.

Carry a pair of sunglasses (as protection from high altitude glare).

A Swiss army knife has many uses, such as cutting cheese and opening bottles.

Bring a small clock with an alarm to help you wake up, because not all hotel rooms have telephones.

Packing

If you are on a cultural tour, it's OK to bring a hard suitcase, though a soft bag is more versatile and easier to pack into the luggage space of a vehicle. For those trekking in Bhutan a strong duffel bag as luggage is best. You will also want a small rucksack (back pack) or waist pack to carry your camera, water bottle and other essentials in the vehicle and when you are walking around town or visiting monuments.

PRE DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Once your tour or trek in Bhutan is confirmed we will provide you with a detailed Pre Departure Information packet which contains a list of recommended clothing & equipment along with many other details that will help you prepare for you tour/trek in Bhutan.

Although the Shabdrung is regarded as the founder of the nation, the secular realm has achieved an unprecedented degree of unity under the influential guidance of a Twentieth Century monarchy. Within a cultural context where the spiritual and temporal spheres are intimately connected, political leadership remains interpreted as divinely determined. The royal family traces its roots to the great Sixteenth Century saint Pema Lingpa, and the present monarch still enjoys a god-like status throughout much of his Kingdom. The Forth King Jigme Singye

Wangchuck as the head of state now rules the Kingdom, with the throne retaining its position as the fulcrum of the political system. Bhutanese art possesses a major Tibetan influence, although it has developed some of its own derivations. It has three main characteristics: it is anonymous, religious and performs no independent aesthetic function. Intricate wall paintings and thangkas (wall hangings), most historical writing and fine sculpted images all have a religious theme. Given their role, these may be interpreted as created by artisans rather than artists, although there exist many extremely fine examples. All are viewed as sacred, and newly commissioned paintings and sculptures are consecrated through a special ceremony whereby they come to personify the respective deities.

Although both Buddhism and the monarchy are critical elements, it is the general extensive perpetuation of tradition that is possibly the most striking aspect of Bhutan & culture. This is most overtly reflected in the nature of dress and architecture.

All Bhutanese continue to wear the traditional dress: for men and boys the gho, a long gown hitched up to the knee so that its lower half resembles a skirt, for women and girls the kira, an ankle-length robe somewhat resembling a kimono. Generally colorful apparel, the fabrics used range from simple cotton checks and stripes to the most intricate designs in woven silk.
The Bhutanese architectural landscape is made up of chortens, stonewalls, temples, monasteries, fortresses, mansions and houses. Associated with a number of clear-cut architectural concepts and building types rooted in Tibetan Buddhism, there is a strong association between state, religious and secular forms. What makes it quite unique is the degree of uniformity, with all structures corresponding to traditional designs. Thus ancient monasteries and fortresses appear to merge with more modern popular dwellings to create a setting that is fully internally consistent.

Bhutan Tours Programmes

Best Season Trip Days Name of the Trip

Round the Year 04 Days Journey to Bhutan

Round the Year 08 Days Bhutan Cultural Tour

Round the Year 05 Days Window on Bhutan

Round the Year 08 Days Best of Bhutan

Round the Year 11 Days A Walking Tour of Bhutan

Round the Year 11 Days The Punakha Festival Tour

Round the Year 11 Days Bhutan Cultural Tour

Round the Year 13 Days Bhutan Cultural Tour

Round the Year 14 Days Kathmandu, Sikkim, Bhutan

Round the Year 12 Days Motor Biking Tour in Bhutan


Bhutan Trekking Programmes

Best Season Trip Days Name of the Trip

Round the Year 08 Days A Thousand Fairies Trek

March -June; Sep- Nov 15 Days The Chomolhari Trek

Round the Year 12 Days Bumthang Cultural Trek