Bhutan is a small, landlocked nation located in the eastern Himalayas between India and China. Its landscape ranges from subtropical plains and forests in the South to subalpine forests and snowy mountains in the North. Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist country and is known as the last stronghold of Mahayana Buddhism.
All visitors require a visa before travelling to Bhutan (except those from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives). As part of the visa application process, you will be required to pay the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of US$100 per day (per adult; concessionary rates apply for children). A non-refundable, one-off visa application fee of US$40 is also payable.
You can apply online for a visa by completing an application form, or if you’re travelling with a tour operator or staying at a hotel, they can apply on your behalf.
The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a daily levy paid by visitors to support Bhutan’s development. Since the kingdom first opened its doors in 1974, guests have played a critical role in our country’s growth.
The SDF is collected by the national exchequer and funds are allocated to various projects that create long-term, sustainable opportunities for the Bhutanese people, through free healthcare, education and training, upskilling the tourism and hospitality industry, improved infrastructure, environmental preservation and conservation, cultural preservation programmes and initiatives that support local businesses and economies. The SDF is also a vital means of maintaining the exceptional forest cover and carbon-neutrality for which our small nation is world-renowned and globally critical. The SDF also helps us to ensure that we can continue to offer guests tranquility and an intimate experience.
A correctly input visa application can take up to five days to process.
The country has one international airport located in Paro. Flights operated by Drukair and Bhutan Airlines arrive and depart from destinations including Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodhgaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati and Singapore. Private jets or charters can fly into Bhutan after obtaining the relevant approvals.
There are also domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan.
Bhutanese currency is known as the Ngultrum (Nu.). Its value is tied to the Indian Rupee, which is widely accepted in the country.
Yes. All visitors must have full, valid travel insurance for the duration of their visit. For all visitors except those from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives, it is required to be in place when you make your visa application.
A local guide will help you see the best that the country has to offer and will ensure your safety when exploring unfamiliar terrain and altitude. It is mandatory to be accompanied by a guide for any journey or any trek beyond Thimphu and Paro. Guides are also mandatory for visitors who enter Bhutan via our land borders and plan to travel beyond the border towns.
Guests no longer require a route permit to travel around the country, so long as they are accompanied by a guide certified by the Department of Tourism.
Bhutan is a very safe place to visit, even if you’re travelling alone. There is very little crime experienced by locals or visitors, although we advise you to take care of yourself and your belongings. In some areas you may encounter stray dogs – please be cautious around them as they are not domesticated. They normally keep their distance, but please stay away from them as much as possible, especially if travelling with children. Please don’t feed or pat these or any other wild animals.
Bhutan’s physical environment presents occasional safety hazards, including flooding and landslides. From June to September the monsoons can affect transport and services. Check with your hotel or tour operator for possible disruptions.
There is some very good content in the form of SHINE Tourism Attraction Books that list activities and helpful information available to download at the following link: https://shine.grat.at/photos/
The tour operators in Bhutan would also be able to provide you with good on the ground knowledge about the highlights of each regional district (Dzongkhag).