Frequently Asked Questions | Druk Asia

Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Update

Face masks are no longer required to be worn at any venue or at any time in Bhutan, except in hospitals and health centres. However, travellers can choose to wear face masks at their convenience should they wish. Also, it may be mandated by the government that face mask needs to be worn in the future if the number of COVID-19 cases go up, therefore it is recommended that guest always travel with a face mask in their luggage as a precaution.

Although we recommend all visitors stay up to date with vaccinations against covid-19 (coronavirus) to help stop the spread of the disease, there are now no covid-19 vaccination requirements for adults or children to enter Bhutan from September 23rd 2022. There is no quarantine period.

While there is no requirement for PCR test results. All individuals (12 years and above) entering Bhutan may be subjected to random RT-PCR testing at the points of entry or at the worksite to maintain covid-19 surveillance for new variants. No fee shall be charged for the RT-PCR testing for surveillance.

If you are tested positive for covid-19 during your stay in Bhutan, you will be required to quarantine in the hotel until you test negative. The cost for the additional quarantine nights and PCR tests will be borne yourself. The Sustainable Development Fee will be waived during the quarantine period.

There will be no covid-19 protocols to leave Bhutan, unless the country the guest is travelling to requires them.

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.

There are 19 languages spoken in Bhutan, but the national language is Dzongkha. English is used throughout Bhutan’s education system, so it is widely used and understood.

Bhutan is a year-round destination. There are four seasons: 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 15oC and 30oC. 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, giving Bhutan the name Drukyul, which means Land of the Thunder Dragon in Dzongkha (Bhutan’s national language).

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’s currency is called ngultrum. It’s 1:1 with Indian rupees.

Three different electrical plugs are used throughout Bhutan: the British plug (three square pins, compatible with type G sockets), the European plug (two round pins, compatible with type C socket) and the Indian plug (three thick round pins, compatible with type D sockets). It’s a good idea to bring adaptors for all three.

Visa & SDF

Visitors of all nationalities, except those from India, require a visa before entering Bhutan. For all visitors, except those from Bangladesh and the Maldives, this visa must be applied for and approved in advance of travel. Visitors from Bangladesh and the Maldives also require a visa, but this can be applied for and approved either in advance of travel or upon arrival in Bhutan.

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.

You can apply online for a visa to Bhutan visiting the Department of Immigration website and paying online.

You can also choose to travel with Druk Asia and have our team process all your necessary documents to visit Bhutan, just like we did for some 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.

Air ticketing to Bhutan is a breeze with Druk Asia as she is also the representative of Drukair in Singapore.

A correctly input visa application can take up to five to seven working days to process.

If your Bhutan travel visa is issued on your old passport, you will have to bring along your old passport with you to Bhutan. The Department of Immigration will need to verify your details on your old passport too. A fine of up to 10,000 Nu will be imposed if travellers fail to present both the traveller's old and new passport. Alternatively, please inform 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 you have a passport with at least six months validity at the point of arrival in Bhutan.

The SDF is the Sustainable Development Fee, 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 the country’s growth. As Bhutan reopen on September 23rd 2022, this partnership is once again evolving to enable the country to protect and preserve the kingdom and its priceless assets. It also helps the Kingdom to ensure that tourists visit in sustainable numbers and that they can continue to offer guests tranquillity and an intimate experience.

The SDF is collected by the national exchequer and funds are allocated to various projects that enhance facilities, services and infrastructure for Bhutanese nationals and visitors, as well as funding free healthcare and education.

For all visitors except those from India, the SDF is US$200 per person, per night. For guests from India the SDF is 1,200 ngultrum, or the equivalent amount in Indian rupees, per person, per night.

Children aged 6 to 12 at the time of travel receive a 50% concessionary discount on their SDF. Those aged 5 or younger are exempt.

Day visitors to the Bhutanese towns bordering India are also exempt from paying the SDF until they reach a point designated by the Bhutanese government.

Bhutan's SDF remains at USD 200 per person per night. The effective SDF with the 50% discount is USD 100 per person per night for US Dollar paying tourists. This is a time-limited incentive until 2027.

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.

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

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.

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

It's valid until September 2027. Further details post-2027 will be announced one year before the validity ends.

It’s calculated on a per night basis.

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 visitor traveller to Bhutan can now book all aspects of the journey independently. However, accredited tour operators such as Druk Asia are recommended to book a tour.

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, Druk Air 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.

ATM and banks accept Visa and Mastercard. International credit cards are widely used in urban areas of Bhutan. However this service may not be available in other parts of the country. Visitors 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.

Cash in US dollars and Indian rupees is also widely accepted. We advise bringing some cash in either of these currencies, or in ngultrum.

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!

Top 10 things to buy from Bhutan. Should you miss any Bhutanese products after you return home, you can check out bhutannatural 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 the Bhutan Natural shop located in the heart of Paro town.

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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