COST TO TRAVEL TO BHUTAN: The minimum daily tariff is set by the government of Bhutan and can not be negotiated. These rates can be higher, depending on the nature of services. The rate is the same for all tours, cultural tours, festival tours, birdwatching and trekkking. Your tour operator will take care all of the arrangement for visas, Druk Air reservation, hotel booking, and obtaning permits to visit restricted places.
THE MANDATED COST: High Season Tariff US$200 per person per night. Low Season Tariff US$165 per person per night. Surchage: Individual travellers: US$40 per night. Groups of 2 persons: US$30 per person per night. Groups of 3 persons or more: no surcharge. July and August are low season
VISA, PASSPORT AND VISA FEE: A visa is stamped in the passport at Paro Airport ( or entry port) during the immigration process. A visa cost US$20 and Visas are approved and issued prior to entry, with the pre-payment of travel itinerary. The visitors are required valid passport and visa to enter Bhutan, except for Indian nationals. Travelers to Bhutan must have a visa approved prior to arriving in the kingdom of Bhutan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu issues visa to all foreign travelers.
RATE UNDERCUTTING PROHIBITED: The Bhutan government grants a tourist visa after it receives the full tour payment from the tourist. If a tour operator offers a tour at a reduced daily rate (that is, it undercuts the tariff/rate), the Bhutan government will not approve the tourist visa. Make sure you choose the right tour operator when you travel to Bhutan. Currently, there are more than 300 tour operators in Bhutan. You want a tour operator with experience, integrity, and quality!
TREKKING IN BHUTAN: Bhutan offers many opportunities for trekking with its high mountains deep valleys and untouched by modernization. Trekking in this mountain of Bhutan is a wonderful experience for any one who enjoys hiking and camping in rich natural forest, meeting with the local people/yak and their cultures. The country ranges from the dense forest of subtropical forest to the alpine shrubs, with a many different of flora and fauna. The land is thinly populated with scattered settlements.
JUMOLHARI TREK: The Jumolhari trek takes you from 2600m up to 4000m and even 5224m if you choose and is the most popular route taken. This is partly because of its access to Paro and Thimphu and the fact that is of moderate difficulty. In addition the duration of the trek is ideal for most visitors. There are several variations of the route but a trek to Jumolhari can last from 7 to 9 nights and offers flexibility in tour itineraries.
The chance to trek to the base of the impressive Jumolhari Mountain, the beautiful campsite and the amazing views of Juchu Draakey, Jho Drakey, Tshering Gang and Masang Gang are the other reasons why this trek deserves its reputation.
The Trekking Season for High Altitude Treks: Altitude and weather conditions dictate that the main trekking seasons for the Jumolhari trek are quite short. There are two high altitude trekking season: In Spring (March to Early June) and in Autumn (mid September to mid/late November). However, the passes on the Jumolhari trek can often be blocked in March and November and even at the end of April you could encounter snow at Jangothang and the passes.
In spring you will experience the beauty of huge rhododendron and Magnolia trees in full bloom as well as Azalea and peach blossom. May is probably the best time to catch the rhododendron in bloom. In Autumn the different hues of foliage are a pleasure to the eye and the skies are at the clearest.
It is possible to do the Jumolhari trek in the summer months but this is the rainy season so you need to come suitable prepared. There are different pleasures to discover when trekking in summer: the rainy season brings out the fragile blue poppy, ting mountain flowers and an array of fascination mushrooms.
CLIMATE AND TEMPRATURE: Bhutan’s climate ranges from tropical in the south, to temperate in the center of the country, to cold in the north…and like much of your adventure in the Himalayas it will be quite unpredictable. In the Thimphu and Paro valleys, the winter daytime temperature averages 60 degrees Fahrenheit during clear winter days but drops well below freezing during the night. Mid December to early January can be a beautifully clear and dry time in Western Bhutan. Late December through mid February is the period of heaviest snow fall in the higher elevations.
TRAVELING TO BHUTAN: This Bhutan Travel website is to give some information to the travellers who wish to travel to Bhutan. I have also listed some licensed Bhutan tour companies. You may contact the tour operators/companies in Bhutan, or you can arrange your travel through their agents. There is no extra cost if you book your trip through the agents abroad.
PEOPLE AND LANGUAGE: The country’s population of 600, 000 is composed of three main ethnic groups. The Sharchopas, who are considered to be the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan, live mostly in Eastern Bhutan and they are of Indo-Mongoloid origin. The Ngalops populate mostly Western Bhutan migrated from the Tibetan plains and are the importers of Buddhism to Bhutan. The Lhotsampas who are of Nepalese origin settled in the southern foothills of the country in the early twentieth century. This ethnic diversity of the people has resulted in numerous dialects and languages that are spoken throughout the country. Dzongkha is the National language. English is the medium of instruction in schools and is widely spoken.
RELIGION/FESTIVAL: Bhutan is the last bastion of the Mahayana form of Buddhism in the world today. It was in the 8th century AD that Guru Padma Sambhava introduced Buddhism to the country. Subsequently this was promulgated by various other religious figures who visited Bhutan. The dominant sect that came to be established in the country was the Drukpa Kargyu sect of Mahayana Buddhism, which is now the official religion of Bhutan. Religious festivals (Tsechu) are important events and celebrated throughout the kingdom of Bhutan. The tsechus are the most colourful event and all Bhutanese gathers and celebrate at every Dzongs (fortress), temples, and monasteries.
TRAVEL INFORMATION: If you want to travel to Bhutan, try to book your travel as early as possible, that will ensure you get a good hotel, and confirmed Druk Air flight seats. During the festivals it is so hard for the tour operators to get Druk Air flight seats and hotel. Early booking is good for you. If you are traveling to Bhutan for the festivals, you must book your tour 4-5 months in advance, if you are traveling for different seasons book you tour in 2-3 months in advance.
NATIONAL DRESS FOR MEN AND WOMEN: The national dress of Bhutan is called the gho for men and kira for women. It was introduced during the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to give the Bhutanese a unique identity. All Bhutanese are required to wear the national dress in government offices, schools and on formal occasions. The gho is a long robe hoisted to the knee and held in place with a kera, a woven cloth belt, wound tightly around the waist. This forms a large pouch above that to carry traditional items like a bowl and betel nut.
WOMEN’s NATIONAL DRESS: The kira is a floor-length rectangular piece of cloth wrapped around the body over a blouse called wonju. The kira is held from the shoulders by broach-like hooks called koma and is fastened at the waist with a kera. The dress is complete with a short, open jacket-like garment called toego
BHUTAN FLAG: The flag of Bhutan is representative of the country’s general features. The secular authority of the king is shown by the upper half of the flag which is yellow, the colour of fruitful action in state and religious affairs. The lower orange half of the flag represents the religious practice and spiritual power of Mahayana Buddhism. The thunder dragon running diagonally across the middle of the flag signifies the name Druk Yul. Its white colour is an expression of purity and loyalty of the various ethnic and linguistic groups in the country. The country’s wealth and perfection are the jewels clasped in the dragon’s claws, protected by the strength of deities expressed by the snarling mouth of the dragon.
GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS: This concept, enunciated and espoused by His Majesty the King, had not only guided Bhutan’s development policy but had over the years, according to observers, become the subject of much interest and discussions among circles of leaders, economists, academicians and researchers around the world. The growing interest culminated in the first ever significant international conference on GNH held in Bhutan in February, 2004. The conference attracted more than 80 participants from about 20 countries and generated much enthusiasm in the world media as well.