1. Entering Bhutan
By Air: Direct international flights are available from Kolkata, Delhi, Bodh Gaya, Guwahati, Mumbai, Bagdogra, Dhaka, Bangkok, Kathmandu, and Singapore to Bhutan. However, the flight from Kathmandu to Bhutan is the most thrilling and famous because you get to witness stunning views of four of the world's highest mountains.
By Land: Three land borders are open to tourists; Phuentsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar. The Phuentsholing town is located in southwest Bhutan around 170km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra. From Phuentsholing, you have to drive for 6 hours to reach Thimphu.
2. Visa Information & Travel Requirements
If you are an Indian, Bangladeshi or Maldivian citizen, you can get the visa at the port of entry showing a valid passport (minimum 6 months of validity). Indian nationals can also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC) to get a visa. People from other countries have to go through an online system to acquire visa clearance in advance. Visas are processed through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator, directly or through a foreign travel agent. Moreover, you have to book your trip with the licensed Bhutanese tour operator or their international partners.
The photo page of your passport is needed to apply for the visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) after the full payment of your trip (including a USD 40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received in the TCB bank account. The visa will be processed within 72 hours after getting a visa clearance. At the entry point, you have to show your clearance letter, and the visa will be stamped on your passport.
3. Banking and Foreign Exchange
Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum (Nu.), which has the same value as the Indian rupee. Moreover, the Indian rupee is also legal in Bhutan. There are no coins. USD 50 and USD 100 bills are given a better exchange rate than USD 20 bills or less. The smaller USD notes fetch about 5% less. You can exchange at the foreign exchange desk at Paro Airport and Bank of Bhutan branches in major townships such as Paro and Thimphu. While traveling in remote towns make sure to carry enough cash with you as no ATM or banking facilities are available.
Note:- Credit Cards are not a convenient source of payment in Bhutan and only a handful of hotels accept them. Master Card, Visa, and American Express are accepted everywhere. Traveler checks and US dollars are the most convenient currency and are cashed by most banks.
Drinking tap water is not recommended at all in any condition. You can use it to brush your teeth. Bottled water is available everywhere. You can carry water purification tablets for extra safety while traveling to remote areas. Usually, hotels and lodges provide either boiled or mineral water. Boiled water is mostly available in remote locations and a reusable water bottle is advised to carry.
Ema Datse, the national dish of Bhutan might be the perfect option for you to try if you are a chili lover. Made of red/green chili and red rice, this dish will stimulate all of your taste buds. Other than Bhutanese dishes, you can see Tibetan, Indian, and Chinese cuisines in Thimphu and Paro. As most of the trips are group tours, you will be getting a buffet for your meals. While trekking in remote areas, your trek guide will arrange all the meals for you. Cafes, hotels, bars, restaurants, etc are mostly found in Thimphu. You will have a variety of options available to dig in.
During the tour, you will stay overnight in a 3-star hotel or above. The rooms are spacious, luxurious, comfortable, and clean. There are also guesthouse, homestay, and farm stay options available. To experience a typical Bhutanese lifestyle, a farm stay or homestay is the best option. The accommodation in the remote areas is more on the basic side than in big cities.
7. Best time to visit Bhutan
The best time to travel to Bhutan might differ from one location to another. Southern Bhutan has tropical weather, whereas the eastern part is warmer than the western part of the country. The northern part of Bhutan receives snowfall throughout the year because of the Himalayas. Usually, September to November is known as the best time to visit Bhutan. The sky is clear and sunny. Also, March to April is another best time to travel here. Many vegetations and floras decorate the trail.