Yes, unplanned trips are huge fun but there is always a strange line of difference between planning your trip and gathering information. Ever since you may have returned from your Sikkim trip, you must have been busy planning your next trip to Bhutan but various things have finally put your plans at the backseat. They say, tourism to Bhutan isn’t as simple as it seems as unlike other countries, you can’t purchase tickets, get your visa in few minutes and pack your bags to land yourself in Bhutan. There are some more steps involved and hence you need to know about some essential factors which you can keep in mind.
Bhutan tourism isn’t open like they are in other countries as the entire tourism sector is controlled by Tourism Council of Bhutan, also known as TCB. Majority of the tourists who wish to reach Bhutan have to go through TCB approved agents and they also have to pay the price. Nevertheless, this post will discuss few important things that you have to keep in mind before planning a trip to Bhutan.
#1: Reaching Bhutan
There are 2 ways in which you can get inside Bhutan, one through Phuentsholing and secondly by flying till Paro and landing there. But while you are coming out of Bhutan, apart from the aforementioned 2 routes, you can also come through Samdrup too. But there isn’t any entrance way through Samdrup.
#2: Permits and visa
If you’re an Indian, you won’t require a visa before entering Bhutan and the permit can be obtained after arrival either at Paro or Phuentsholing. Using this visa, you’re allowed to visit Thimphu and Paro. If you wish to stay more and visit other lesser-visited places like Bumthang, Punakha or Haa valley, you would require renewing your permit at Thimphu. You’ll find the immigration office at Norzin Lam in Thimphu.
#3: The smoking barrier
Bhutan has got an extremely strict policy about smoking and hence if you’re a chain smoker, you either need to let go of this habit before visiting Bhutan or let go of the idea of visiting Bhutan. Smoking or selling any kind of tobacco products is prohibited in Bhutan and if they find you doing so, the fine is extravagantly high. At times, this can even lead to imprisonment. So, beware!
Bhutan usually follows a timezone which is pretty different from India. It is GMT +6 hours and hence it’s 30 minutes ahead of the time in India. Once you cross Phuentsholing, the times that you will find displayed are all as per the timezone of Bhutan. So, for all those timings for buses, make sure you calculate your time if you want to avoid missing your bus.
#5: Dress code
For the people residing in Bhutan, they have a strict dress code but for the tourists, they are not so strict. The nationals of Bhutan are supposed to wear their national dress, Gho for men and Kira for women on every formal occasion and in places like temples, offices, monasteries etc. For the tourists, whenever you enter Dzongs, you have to wear full shirts with sleeves and collars. If you’re not able to do that always, you may carry a jacket and wear it whenever needed.
It’s very easy to obtain a local pre-paid GSM sim in Bhutan and once you show your permit, they will instantly give you a sim card. So, are you planning your next trip to Bhutan? If answered yes and if you have any more questions on this place, do leave them in the comments section.