Yes, Australians can visit Bhutan for travel purposes. The two countries celebrated 15 years of their diplomatic relations in 2017. In the past, there were different special packages and offers to encourage Australian tourists to visit Bhutan.
However, the Bhutanese government sets specific travel requirements for Australian tourists. Australians can go to Bhutan by first reaching out to a licensed Bhutanese tour operator who will help in the entire planning and execution of the Bhutan trip.
Direct flights from Australia to Bhutan are currently unavailable. Bhutan's small geographical size and the considerable distance between the two countries make it logistically challenging to operate direct routes. Additionally, Bhutan has only one international airport, Paro International Airport, which has limited capacity and operates with restrictions due to its challenging terrain.
As a result, travelers from Australia typically connect through major Asian hubs like Bangkok and Singapore before taking connecting flights to Paro.
While the absence of direct flights may add some travel time, it allows for an opportunity to explore other fascinating destinations en route to the enchanting landscapes of Bhutan.
You can get from Australia to Bhutan by taking the predominant air travel routes. As there aren't anydirect flights from Australia to Bhutan, you must take the daily connecting flights from Thailand or Singapore. Theseflights connect you from Australia to Bhutan's Paro International Airport.
Daily flights from major Australian cities to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport can be reserved for the Australia to Thailand to Bhutan route. Subsequently, Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines offer daily flights to Bhutan's Paro International Airport, with the journey taking approximately 3 to 4 hours. A brief layoverof 40 minutes at Kolkata/Gaya or Bagdogra in India is typical.
Alternatively, the Australia to Singapore to Bhutan route features daily flights from Australia to Singapore's Changi Airport. Upon arrival in Singapore, Druk Air operates two flights per week to Paro International Airport, with a travel time of around 5 to 6 hours, including a potential 4 0 - minute layover at Guwahati in India.
Visa on arrival is not available to Australians traveling to Bhutan. Only citizens of India, Maldives, or Bangladesh are eligible for an entry permit upon arrival at the designated entry point.
For tourists in Australia planning a journey to Bhutan, obtaining a Bhutan Visa is a crucial step to ensure a seamless entry.
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Yes, Australian passport holders must acquire a Bhutan visa before embarking on a journey to Bhutan. Bhutan's unique tourism regulations mandate that all tourists, including Australians, be accompanied by a registered guide organized by an authorized Bhutanese tour operator. Hence, all the meticulous arrangements are overseen by the agent, who requests specific documents from you for the visa application. So, you need to:
The Bhutanese visa application incurs a fee of USD 40, issued by the Department of Immigration, with a processing time of up to 5 working days. This information is communicated to tourists by the tour operator before entry into Bhutan. Upon arrival at Paro International Airport, immigration officers verify the visa, ensuring a smooth entry process.
Embarking on a journey to the mystical land of Bhutan comes with a unique pricing structure designed to ensure sustainable tourism through the "High Value, Low Impact Tourism" policy. A Bhutan trip costfor Aussies depends on many factors, including government-mandated fees, accommodation,transportation fees, the duration of your stay, and the type of services you want. The costs arementioned below:
Bhutanese Visa Fee: USD 40, processed by the Department of Immigration, typically arranged by the licensed Bhutanese tour operator as part of a comprehensive travel package.
SDF: Besides the visa fee, tourists must pay a Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) of $100 pernight. It is pivotal in supporting Bhutan's environmental conservation and socio-economicdevelopment commitment.
This is a recent adjustment to the SDF, effective from September2023 until September 2027, implemented on August 25th, 2023. Notably, children aged 6 to 12 receive a 50% discount on the SDF, while those aged five or under are completelyexempt fromthe fee. The SDF does not cover expenses for food, entry charges, accommodation, transport,and guide fees, necessitating a separate budget allocation for these aspects of the journey.
Tour Package Cost: This cost is varied, depending on the trip duration, destinations you'retraveling to, your chosen accommodation level, and included services such as transportation and guide services. At a minimum standard, a day in Bhutan's significant cities like Thimphu andParo will cost you around 250 to300 USD per person, which includes the tour operator fee,accommodation, food, and private vehicles, excluding the SDF.
However, If you want to take theluxury option with luxury accommodation and travel, it can cost as much as $2000. Some of thecost willbe paid upfront during your agent's pre-booking. You can carry some additional cash foryour shopping except for the abovementioned amount.
Additional Expenses: Aussies should budget for extra meals andoptional activities like tips, andpersonal souvenirs. While the minimum daily expenditure ensures a high-quality travel experience, travelers need to plan for any additional discretionary spending.
In summary, a standard tour to Bhutan costs about 350 to 400 USD (550 to 625 AUD approximately) perday perperson. This includes all the potential costs and fees.
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Bhutan operates on the Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN) as its official currency.
For Australians managing finances during their Bhutanese stay, several recommendations ensure asmooth financial experience:
Cash Transactions: Carrying cash for smaller transactions with vendors is advisable, especially in more remote areas. However, most hotels in major cities accep t credit cards.
Banking Facilities: Major cities like Thimphu and Paro have ATMs, but their reliability with international cards can vary. Additionally, money exchange is recommended, as the Australian dollar is not widely accepted. Banks, authorized exchange counters, or major hotels offer the best rates.
Low Tourism Season: Traveling during Bhutan's low tourism season (December, January,February, June, July, and August) tends to lower expenses, making it a strategic choice forbudget-conscious travelers.
Group Travel: Exploring Bhutan in larger groups reduces individual costs, as logistics expensesare shared. Solo travel may incur higher expenses, making group travel a more economicaloption.
The best time to travel from Australia to Bhutan is during the spring, from April to May, when the temperature ranges from 5°C to 29°C. The sunny days bring in pleasant weather good for flora and fauna.
This is the best season to enjoy outdoor activities u nder the bright blue skies. Festivals like Paro Tsechu, Ura Yakchoe, Rhododendron Festival, Zhemgang Tshechu, and Domkhar Tsechu are celebrated during this season.
The other season that is great for travel is the autumn season, from September to mid-November. Thetemperature sits anywhere from 8°C to 28°C. The skies are clear during this time and best for natureexcursions. Several festivals are celebrated this season, where you can witness cultural events, maskeddances, and religious rituals.
Some are Thimphu Tshechu, Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu, GangteyTshechu, and Black-Necked Crane Festival.
Seasons not considered the best for travel to Bhutan include the Monsoon season from June to August, when the temperature is warm and reaches close to 32°C with rai nfall. The other off - season is winter, with temperatures going as low as - 5°C, and there are possibilities of snowfall in the hills.
However, if you are only traveling to cities in lower altitudes like Paro and Thimphu for a couple of days, then these off - seasons are also suitable for budget travel.
For Australians venturing to Bhutan, while no specific vaccines are mandatory, it is advisable to be up - to - date on routine v accinations. Additionally, health authorities often recommend protection against diseases like malaria, hepatitis A, typhoid, and dengue, which are common in Bhutan.
Travelers should consult their healthcare provider before their trip to receive personali zed advice based on regular vaccination requirements and individual health conditions. Also, ensure you carry your doctor's prescription letters when taking personal medication.
Also, make sure you get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all costs, including medical evacuation, as you will have to keep in mind the high - altitude destinations.
In Bhutan, you encounter a culture deeply ingrained in daily life, shaping howpeople eat, celebratefestivals, offer prayers, and attire themselves. When visiting Bhutan, it is best that Australiansunderstand and respect these cultural nuances to enhance their travel experience:
Appropriate Attire: Given Bhutan's mountainous terrain, packing warm clothing and stayingwell-hydrated, especially in cold weather, is advisable.
Dressing modestly in religious places: Bhutanese people take religion and attire seriously.Something that you might frequently notice in the streets is the men wearing an authentic dresscalled Gho and the women wearing Kira attire, which are long, warm robes. Monks are seenwearing long maroon robes and working in monasteries. This is how they show respect forcustoms and traditions. Hence, wearing full-length clothes and dressing modestly atmonasteries, dzongs, and temples is advised.
Respecting Local Norms: Show reverence by adhering to customs, such as removing shoes at designated places, seeking permission for photography, and refraining from public displays of affection.
Environmental Responsibility: Reflect Bhutan's commitment to sustainability by avoiding single - use plastics and supporting eco - friendly alternatives.
Tipping Etiquette: While tipping isn't customary, visitors are welcome to tip for exceptionalservice
Learn Local Words: With Dzongkha as the official language, connecting with locals becomesmore enjoyable by learning basic greetings like "Kuzuzangpo la" (hello) and "Kadinche la" (thankyou).