Frequently Asked Questions | Druk Asia

Frequently Asked Questions

About Bhutan

Bhutan, known as Druk Yul by the locals or the “Land of the Thunder Dragon” is a small landlocked country located in the South Asia region. Bhutan is located in the southern foothills of the Himalayan mountain range, sandwiched between two superpowers - the People's Republic of China in the north and the Republic of India in the south. Tibet is located on its northern border, while three Indian cities are bordering Bhutan with Sikkim to the east, Arunachal Pradesh to the east and Assam state to the south.

In Bhutan, the primary language spoken is Dzongkha, which is the national language and serves as the lingua franca of the country. Additionally, 18 other languages are spoken due to the diverse ethnic and cultural makeup of the population. English is also widely used and understood in Bhutan as it’s the medium of instruction in schools.

There are four seasons in Bhutan: summer (June to August), autumn (September to November), winter (December to February) and spring (March to May). But because of the range of altitudes in the country, and the influence of the north Indian monsoons, the climate is incredibly varied.

In the south, the humid, subtropical climate is fairly consistent year-round, with temperatures between 15°C and 30°C. Central Bhutan, with its temperate forests, has a more seasonal climate, with warm summers and cool, dry winters. The northern regions are much colder during winter. Because of the high altitude, mountain peaks are snowy year-round and the lower reaches remain cool in summer. In summer, the Indian monsoon season runs from late June or July to late September, mostly affecting the southern regions. Most farming activities take place in the summer, when crops thrive in verdant landscapes.

Autumn, from late September or early October to late November, follows the rainy season. It is characterised by bright, sunny days and some early snowfall at higher elevations. It’s the season of feasts and festivals as farmers reap the fruits of their work.

From late November until March, the crisp, clear and sunny winter sets in, with frost throughout much of the country and snowfall common above elevations of 3,000 metres. The winter northeast monsoon brings gale-force winds at the highest altitudes through high mountain passes. Bhutan’s generally dry spring starts in early March and lasts until mid-April. It is a botanist’s delight, with nature in full bloom. Summer weather commences in mid-April with occasional showers and continues to late June.

Bhutan is a year-round travel destination. The best time to visit Bhutan largely depends on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in during your trip. However, the peak tourist seasons in Bhutan generally coincide with the spring and autumn months, making them ideal times to visit for most travelers.

Spring, from March to May, is characterized by mild temperatures, blooming flowers, and clear skies, making it perfect for exploring Bhutan's lush landscapes, attending colorful festivals such as the Paro Tsechu, and embarking on scenic hikes.

Autumn, from September to November, offers similar advantages with cool, pleasant weather, vibrant foliage, and clear views of the Himalayan peaks. This season is also renowned for festivals like the Thimphu Tshechu, providing visitors with rich cultural experiences.

However, if you prefer to avoid crowds and are interested in witnessing Bhutan's stunning landscapes adorned in winter attire, visiting during the winter months of December to February could be appealing. While temperatures are colder, especially in higher-altitude regions, the skies are often clear, offering breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains and tranquil surroundings.

The currency used in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum, abbreviated as BTN. Additionally, the Indian Rupee (INR) is also widely accepted as the Indian Rupee is 1:1 with Bhutanese Ngultrum. Hence, both currencies are accepted forms of payment in Bhutan. It's advisable to carry small denominations of both currencies when traveling in Bhutan, especially when visiting remote areas where credit card acceptance may be limited.

In Bhutan, the power plugs and sockets used are of Type D, Type F, and Type G.

Type D plugs have three round pins in a triangular pattern and are commonly used in Bhutan, while Type F plugs have two round pins with two earth clips on the side and are also compatible with Type C sockets. Type G plugs, which have three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern, are less common but may be found in some places, especially in newer constructions or accommodations catering to international travelers.

It's recommended to bring a universal travel adapter to Bhutan to ensure compatibility with various types of power outlets you may encounter during your stay.

Visa & SDF

All tourists, except for visitors from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, need a visa to enter Bhutan. Indian visitors require a permit, while nationals of Bangladesh and the Maldives are eligible for a visa on arrival.

Visitors from India are able to apply for a permit but are required to hold an Indian passport or an Indian voter ID card. For Indian nationals under the age of 18, a passport or a birth certificate can be used to enter and they must be accompanied by a legal guardian.

Nationals from Switzerland and Thailand holding diplomatic or government-official passports are eligible for a visa at their port of entry. Foreigners issued with a valid SAARC Visa Exemption Sticker do not require prior visa/entry permit clearance. All other foreign nationals must obtain an e-visa prior to their entry into Bhutan.

You have the option to apply for a Bhutanese visa online by visiting the Department of Immigration website and completing the payment process digitally.

Alternatively, you can opt to travel with Druk Asia, allowing our team to handle all the necessary paperwork for your Bhutan trip, just as we've done for over 20,000 visitors since 2009.

Druk Asia is your most reliable travel agency to Bhutan. Druk Asia has existing transaction facilities with both the Department of Immigration of Bhutan and Department of Tourism of Bhutan.

Booking air tickets to Bhutan is seamless with Druk Asia, as we also act as the representative of Drukair in Singapore.

A complete visa application typically takes around five to seven working days to process.

If your Bhutan travel visa is issued on your old passport, you will need to bring along your old passport when traveling to Bhutan. The Department of Immigration will need to verify your details on your old passport as well. Failure to present both the old and new passports may result in a fine of up to 10,000 Nu. Alternatively, please update the Department of Tourism or your Bhutan travel agent to update your visa if there's still a week to go before your trip.

You are required to ensure that your passport has at least six months validity upon arrival in Bhutan.

The Bhutan Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is a mandatory fee imposed on all tourists visiting Bhutan. It is intended to contribute to the country's sustainable development initiatives, including the preservation of culture and the environment, as well as funding free education, healthcare, and infrastructure development projects. Additionally, it helps the Kingdom manage tourism in sustainable numbers, ensuring that visitors can continue to enjoy tranquility and an intimate experience while exploring Bhutan.

Bhutan has halved its Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) by 50 percent in a move to encourage tourism. Effective from September 1st, visitors will now be required to pay US$100 per person per night for the duration of their stay, reduced from the previous rate of US$200 per person per night. These revised rates will remain in effect until August 31st, 2027. Children aged 5 to under 12 years will be subject to a reduced SDF of USD 50 per person per night, while the fee is waived for children below 5 years old.

For Indian nationals, the Sustainable Development Fee to enter Bhutan is set at INR 1,200 per person per night.

The Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is waived for up to 24 hours for tourists of all nationalities visiting the border towns of Samtse, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar.

No, it cannot be combined. Visitors wishing to explore border towns before or after the SDF discount must apply for another visa.

Yes, the 50% discount shall be on the USD 100 rate. Therefore, the effective SDF with the 50% discount for children will be USD 50 per person per night for US Dollar paying tourists. Children who have not yet turned six years old are eligible to visit Bhutan without paying any SDF.

The 50% SDF discount is effective from September 1, 2023.

The SDF is calculated on a per night basis.

It starts on September 1, 2023. Until then, the existing system remains in place.

No, the incentives introduced in June 2023 (4+4, the 7+7 and the 12+18 have been revoked and are no longer applicable). However, the 24 hour SDF waiver for border towns in Bhutan remains valid.

Travelling to Bhutan

You can travel to Bhutan either by air or by land. Royal Bhutan Airlines (Drukair), the national carrier flies directly from multiple cities in Asian. Drukair currently offer direct flights to and from Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Kathmandu (Nepal), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and New Delhi, Kolkata, Gaya, Bagdogra, Guwahati (India).

There are also two gateways through the border of India. You can either enter Bhutan through Phuntsholing, the main trade city located in southern Bhutan or Samdrup Jongkhar located in the southeastern of Bhutan. Usually travellers will travel to Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar if they plan to visit the Eastern Bhutan region such as Trashigang, Mongar, Lhuentse and Trashiyangtse.

More information about travelling to Bhutan can be found here.

Yes, any traveler visiting Bhutan can now book all aspects of their journey independently. However, you are encouraged to book a tour with accredited tour operators such as Druk Asia. It will save you a lot of hassle in organising permits and accommodations, and the tour guides will be able to provide you insights into Bhutanese culture, traditions, and hidden gems.

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. Visitors from India, Bangladesh and the Maldives have the option to purchase domestic travel insurance at their port of entry.

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.

Yes, all foreigners are allowed to bring with them one liter of alcoholic spirit and up to 200 sticks of cigarettes OR 30 pieces of cigars. However, please be informed that you will have to pay duty taxes at the custom at Paro International Airport or any entry points in Bhutan.

Bhutan is the first country in the world to ban the sales of tobacco products in the world. Duty rates are 200 percent in total, roughly translates to USD30 per carton of cigarettes.

a. Spirits: 1 bottle not larger than one liter b. Cigarettes: 1 carton (containing 200 pieces) subject to 100 percent customs duty and 100 percent sales tax (nominally at 1,600 Nu per carton)

For passengers heading to Bhutan, DrukAir will ensure that you get on the next available flight to Paro International Airport. For passengers who missed their flight due to late check-in, passengers can pay Druk Air an admin charge of US$50 to get on the next available flight.

For travellers returning from Bhutan, Druk Air staff at Paro will assist you with all arrangements due to the flight delay. Staff of Druk Air will also attempt to contact your connecting flight airline to inform them of a delay. Should you not be able to take your connecting flight on the same day, Druk Air will try to assist you to arrange for your accommodation.

Any other fees and charges incurred will typically have to be borne by the travellers.

Travellers are advised to acquire their own travel insurance. For more information, please refer to Druk Air’s cancellation and change of schedule policy.

Your luggage will not be directly checked through to Bhutan. If you have a layover, you are required to retrieve your luggage from the country that you are transiting in and check-in again to your Druk Air flight as Druk Air currently has limited interline agreement with other airlines.

This is the cancellation charges for your tour packages, (for the land cost)

• More than 45 days before start of the programme, USD 140 flat rate per person.
• Between 21 - 30 days ~ 35% of rate
• Between 8 - 20 days ~ 50% of rate
• Between 4 - 7 days ~ 75% of rate
• Between 3 days or lesser ~ 100%

Please see below for the Drukair Ticket Cancellation policy

• No refund for special promotion tickets.
1. 75% refund permitted for tickets cancelled more than 30 days from the date of travel.
2. 50% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 10 - 29 days from the date of travel.
3. 25% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 4 - 9 days from the date of travel.
• No refund permitted for tickets cancelled within 3 days from the date of travel.

There is a SGD 100 administration fee on each ticket cancelled.

Travelling in Bhutan

It is advised not to smoke in open public places to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. Although smoking is not banned in Bhutan, it is advisable for travellers to pay duties on the tobacco products that are brought into Bhutan. Customs officers have the authorities to ask for duty paid receipts should they witness anyone smoking in public places.

Offenders without valid duty receipts can be fined.

Altitude sickness is not common with visitors to Bhutan except for the very few cases. The first two days should get you acclimatised as most of the tour places have an altitude below 3000m.

If you are intending to go for trekking (which will be above 3000m), it is always good to set a reasonable pace, avoid overexertion, and keep yourself hydrated. Consult with your healthcare provider if taking acclimatisation medication is appropriate for you.

Tipping in Bhutan is not compulsory and it’s not part of the Bhutanese culture. The tipping of your guide, driver and trek crew is purely a personal matter. Feel free to tip the guide or driver at the end of your trip should you wish to as they have been spending a significant amount of time accompanying you throughout your trip.

Guide for the following languages are available if you book with Druk Asia: Chinese, Spanish, Portugese, Korean or Japanese. However, there will be an additional charge of USD150 per day. Please speak to your travel consultant should you require a guide who speaks those languages or you can visit here.

There are currently no halal certified restaurants in Bhutan. However, the meat in Le Meridien Thimphu and Le Meridien Paro are halal certified. Additional charges apply if you’ll like to dine there. You will be able to find eateries that do not serve pork or lard. There are also many eateries that are vegetarian or vegan friendly.

Yes, you can use credit cards and ATM cards in Bhutan, but their acceptance may be limited, especially outside major cities like Thimphu and Paro. It's always a good idea to carry some cash in Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN), or Indian Rupees for smaller purchases and in case you encounter places that don't accept cards. Some places may also accept US dollars. Additionally, inform your bank beforehand about your travel plans to Bhutan to avoid any issues with card usage abroad.

You can download the digital wallet app goBoB launched by the Bank of Bhutan, which can be used with a local SIM card and is widely accepted throughout the country.

Yes, aside from the airport, you can also exchange for the Bhutanese currency (Ngultrum) at the Bank of Bhutan in Thimphu and Paro. However, they only accept 10 major currencies: U.S. Dollar, Pound Sterling, Euro, Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc, Hong Kong Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Danish Kroner, Australian Dollar and Singapore Dollar.

The exchange rate varies according to your currency denomination. We will encourage you to bring larger denominations for the exchange.

Check out the latest exchange rate.

Thimphu and Paro are the best places to quench your shopping thirst. You will be able to find exquisite traditional costumes, kiras and ghos, colourful masks, prayer flags, handwoven textiles, stoles, thangkas (Buddhist paintings) and traditional handicrafts in most of the shops. You can also buy popular products such as honey, cordyceps, yak cheese, lemongrass spray or get yourself a personalised postal stamp from the Bhutan Post in Thimphu!

Check out the top 10 things to buy from Bhutan. Should you miss any Bhutanese products after you return home, you can check out Bhutan Natural online store to purchase the Bhutanese products.

For souvenirs and high quality crafts by local artisans, you may wish to check out The Craft Gallery located opposite to Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL) behind the Department of Revenue and Customs (DRC) in Thimphu. The Craft Gallery is an initiative by Her Majesty the Gyalyum Sangay Choden Wangchuck to promote and preserve Bhutanese arts and crafts. By purchasing the handicrafts there, you are also helping to generate income for the local artisans and support the sustainability in preserving the Bhutanese crafts.

You can also find many shops and eateries along Norzin Lam street in Thimphu. Paro town is also a place that is popular for shopping. Check out Chhom Bhutan located at Kawajangsa, Opposite to Zorig Chusum School in Thimphu for some great souvenirs to bring home for friends and family.

We highly recommend acquiring a copy of Bhutan Travelog, an extensive travel guide providing insights into the distinctive Bhutanese culture and must-visit destinations in the country. This guide offers valuable information about various aspects of Bhutan, including its rich heritage, traditions, and captivating attractions. Moreover, Bhutan Travelog offers a glimpse into the adventures and experiences of fellow travelers, allowing you to gain additional perspectives and tips for your own journey in Bhutan. Whether you're planning your itinerary or seeking inspiration for your Bhutanese adventure, Bhutan Travelog serves as an invaluable resource for travelers eager to explore this enchanting Himalayan kingdom.

Check out for more information.

If you want to work in Bhutan, you must have a job offer from Bhutan before you can apply for your work visa. Though paid jobs are not highly available, there are some volunteering opportunities in Bhutan to teach English. If you are looking to teach, the best time is to search for an opening three months prior to the beginning of the school terms (February to mid-July). Even though there are no formal requirements or qualifications to teach in Bhutan, you are recommended to have at least a university degree, TEFL certificate, and native English proficiency.

Druk Asia

Druk Asia has been serving happy tourists from all over the world. Some of our clients are from Russia, United States of America, United Kingdom, Italy, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and more.

Besides working directly with the customers, Druk Asia also works with other travel agencies to assist them with their trip arrangement as we are the only representative of Drukair (Royal Bhutan Airlines) in Singapore.

Druk Asia is one of the pioneer Bhutan travel agencies and the largest tour operator in the Kingdom. We’ve the experience of serving customers from different creeds and cultures and forged wonderful memories with all our guests.

Click here to find out why you should choose Druk Asia as your tour operator to Bhutan.

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