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TRAVEL INFO

 

Travel Info

The easiest way for visitors to enter Bhutan is by air. Bhutan has two carriers -  Druk Air and Bhutan Air.  The pilots are specially trained and internationally licensed for mountain flying. Both the airlines have an impeccable safety record, without a single mishap since its inception. 

On clear days the flight to Bhutan offers spectacular views of the Great Himalayas, Mt Everest, Mt Kanchenjunga, Jumolhari, and Kula Gangri, and you can also catch a glimpse of the Great Tibetan Plateau and its grandeur stretching in the distance.

Rainbow Tours and Treks will book your tickets well in advance to avoid the last minute rush during the peak seasons without the added commission that outside travel agents charge. To do this you need to confirm your trip,  especially during the rush of Spring and Autumn festivals,  at least 4 weeks in advance.

Travel by land

Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only land border areas open for international tourists. The town of Phuentsholing is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, your journey then begins with mountainous climb through endless turns and hair-pin bends until you enter Thimphu, the capital city. The travel time for the 176 km stretch can be more than 6 hours.

Samdrup Jongkhar is the only entry point in eastern Bhutan. The town borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam, and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Entry through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, the largest District in the country, and from there over the lateral route to Mongar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangduephodrang, and then finally into the capital town of Thimphu. The distance is about 700 km and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.

Travelling within Bhutan

One can use domestic flight service to visit Bumthang in central Bhutan or Yonphula in eastern Bhutan.   The Yonphula Airport is currently under repair and will not be operational until end of 2017.  Flight service between Paro and Bumthang operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.   The other mode of transport within Bhutan is by road. All the major towns in the 20 districts of Bhutan are accessible by road. Despite high mountains, steep slopes and the deep valleys, Bhutan has a relatively well developed network of roads. 

Entry Permit

For foreign visitors, visas will be stamped at the Immigration Desk. A copy of your visa clearance letter will be sent to you by mail before your arrival.  You are required to show this document at the Immigration Desk.  For regional guests, you are advised to carry your passport (also some passport photographs) or voter’s registration card for the entry permit. If you plan to travel by road, the endorsement is done at the entry points in Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar. If by flight, Paro Interntional Airport is your entry point.

Tour Tariff

The tariff is fixed by the Royal Government of Bhutan for packages to Bhutan and this must be paid in US dollars prior to arrival in Bhutan. Regional guests can pay in local currrrency or in rupees.

Daily Tariff

The minimum tariff for tourist visiting in a group of 3 persons or more are as follows:

  • High Season Tariff – USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.
  • Low Season Tariff – USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.

Surcharges

Individual traveller and smaller groups of less than three persons shall be subject to surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable, as follows:

Single individual - USD $40 per night

Group of 2 persons - USD $30 per person per night

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

Tour package cost is inclusive of the following:

  • Royalty and taxes to the government
  • Visa fees
  • Entrance fees to various museum and temples
  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis ( 3 - 4*)
  • Meals ( breakfast, lunch & dinner )
  • Licensed Bhutanese tour guide
  • Ground transport within Bhutan
  • All sightseeing as specified in the itinerary.
  • Camping equipment and gear for trekking
  • Ponies and pack animals on treks

The rates given above are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan. On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on actual basis.

The rates shall apply uniformly irrespective of locations and the type of accommodation provided/asked for. List of hotels and lodges approved for international tourist accommodation updated from time to time shall be issued by TCB.

The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

Discounts

a) There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by elders/ guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates and 100% discount on Royalty.

  1. Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall also be given a 25% discount on daily rates.
  2. A discount of 50% on daily rates shall be given to one person in a group of 11 to 15 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.

Cancellations

1. Every effort will be made to adhere to the planned itinerary.  However, due to weather conditions and reasons beyond Rainbow Tours and Treks control, changes to the itinerary might occur, for which the company accepts no responsibility.

2. Cancellation Charges: 

Tour programmes booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to the cancellation charges as follows:

Within 01 month of tour start date - 50% of Tour Package

Within 15 days of tour start date - 100% of Tour Package (No refund)

3. Delay of Druk Air/Bhutan Airlines Flights:

Local operator shall not be liable to refund tour payment for flight delays up to 48 hours for any reason which is beyond their control. For delays more than 48 hours,clients may choose to either claim refund or extend tour.

4. Insurance

There is no personal insurance of any kind included in the tour price, so travel insurance should be obtained from your place of residence, before commencement of trip.  Rainbow Tours and Treks will not hold liability for any illness, injury or death sustained during a tour/trek.

Tour payment

The only mode of payment to Bhutan is by wire transfer. Prior to your trip to Bhutan, you will be asked to wire the full payment for your holiday through a designated bank by the Tourism Council of Bhutan. Tourist visa will not be issued until full payment is made prior to departure. This money will remain with the Tourism Council of Bhutan until your trip is complete. Only after you have completed your holiday will the money be transferred to the handling local tour operator.

Travel Essentials

From May to September, cotton clothes are sufficient plus a woolen sweater or light jacket. From October to the end of April, you will need very warm clothes including long johns or woolen tights to wear under trousers and down jackets or coat. During visits to monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institution, you are advised to observe dress code of long pants, long sleeved shirts and shoes. Casual clothes are accepted for general tours. You will be outside a lot so you might also want to carry sun glasses, sun caps, sun-screen lotion and lip protection. Rain gear will be a useful item in your check list if you are traveling during the monsoon season from June through August.

Travel Insurance

The tour price does not include Travel Insurance

Tour Guides

Our guides are licensed and trained by Tourism Council of Bhutan. Our trekking guides have an additional mountain guide training including safety and first aid instructions to lead any size of groups. You will be accompanied throughout your stay in Bhutan with English speaking guide, driver and a car at your disposal at all time.

Special Language guides in French, German, Chinese, Thai, Japanese  and Spanish are avaialbe at extra cost. 

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory, but if you appreciate the services offered by our guides, drivers, and service staffs, you may tip them according to your wish.

Currency

The national currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. It is at par with Indian rupee which is widely accepted throughout Bhutan.  You can exchange your money with Ngultrum at the airport, hotels or from the Banks.

There are few ATM centers which cater to withdrawal of money. Only Visa and Master Cards are accepted in some hotels and shops.  

Accommodation and Food

As per the Tourism Council of Bhutan regulation, only 3 star and above hotels/resorts/Guest Houses are to be used to accommodate  international tourists. Visitors also have the option to stay in luxury hotels and resorts at extra cost. 

Bhutanese food is hot and spicy. For our visitors, however, Chinese, Indian and Continental dishes  are also served. The more adventurous visitors can try hot Bhutanese dishes. For visitors on trek we serve three meals a day -  nutritious and tasty dishes. Meals are normally served in buffet style in hotels.

Rice is a staple diet served with every meal. Vegetable or meat dishes cooked with chili and/or cheese comprise the accompanying cuisine.

Bhutan is one of the few countries where chilli is cooked as main vegetable.  

Drink

Ara is local spirit brewed from rice or corn. It is popular in rural areas.

Tea. Located next to the tea growing regions of Assam and Darjeeling, a steaming cuppa remains the popular drink in Bhutan, with both the butter variety (suja) and sweet milk kind (chai) are  readily available throughout the country.

Coffee. The coffee culture that has swept most of the planet is just beginning to creep into the country. There are a number of good coffee houses in Thimphu and Paro.

Transport

We use comfortable and modern Toyota cars, land cruisers, SUVS and coaster buses for all group sizes. Every vehicle is rechecked properly before every tour to ensure the safety and comfort for all clients.

Electricity

It runs on 240v system. The power supply is generally good, but it may fluctuate sometimes.

Time difference

Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of G.M.T and half an hour ahead of India

Customs

All visitors are required to complete a customs form upon arrival at Paro airport. The following items are exempt from customs duty:

  • Personal belongings
  • Instruments ,apparatus or appliances for personal use
  • Photographic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods

Tobacco

Bhutan is the first country to ban usage of tobacco products. Smoking is prohibited in public places. Cigarettes may not be bought or sold in the country, however, visitors can bring in 200 cigarettes (1 carton) on 100% customs duty and 100% sales tax.

Shopping

There are wide array of hand woven textiles, handmade paper products, woven baskets etc... the most popular purchases made by tourists are postage stamps which are world renowned in the philatelic community. Please note that buying and selling antiques in Bhutan is strictly forbidden.

Medical Services

Every district in Bhutan has a general hospital and is staffed with competent doctors and offer basic health services however, you should come well prepared with all the necessary medicines like anti-nausea pills, anti- diarrhea pills, oral dehydration packets , eye drops, anti biotic ointment, and anti -histamine ointment.

Filming

The rules and rates for filming in Bhutan differ from that of normal rates of tours and treks.

Tourists or professionals intent on filming in Bhutan must abide by Bhutanese Filming Regulations 1995 available with the implementing agency (Tourism Council of Bhutan) . The regulation does not apply to feature and cinematography films.

Application for a filming permit must be submitted to the Tourism Council of Bhutan TCB) at least 30 days in advance. The application must be accompanied by :

  1. Synopsis of the film - theme/ background /objective/purpose
  2. Specific location/objects/activities
  3.  Composition of the filming team and the list of equipment including accessories and consumables( film crew members have to pay full daily tourist tariff)
  4. Letter of recommendation from sponsoring agency (application form available with TAB at a cost of Nu 300)

Royalty on filming

  • First 30 minutes or part thereof - US $10,000
  • Next 30 minutes or part thereof- US $6000
  • Every additional 30 minutes or part thereof- US $3000

In addition a security of $5000 must be deposited with TCB. The deposit will be refunded upon completion of the film to the satisfaction of Tourism Council of Bhutan

 

Visa Formailties

All visitors require visa to travel to Bhutan except for tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives. Rainbow Tours will process the visa after receiving scanned passport copies and tour payment. This is a simple procedure.  You will receive your Visa Clearance Letter from us.  The actual visa will be stamped in your passport on arrival at Paro Airport or at  any of the two border entry points if traveling by road.

 

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