Except for India, Maldives and Bangladesh, all other visitors need to obtain a visa for Bhutan. Visas are obtained through an online system by your licensed Bhutanese tour operator directly or through a foreign travel agent. Tourists are required to send the photocopy of their passports to their tour operator, who will then apply for their visa. Once the full payment of the holiday (including your visa fee of USD 40) is made, the tourism council of Bhutan will process the visa within 72 working hours.
All foreigners except Indians need to have a visa to enter Nepal. Unlike other countries, Nepali consulates and embassies overseas issue visas without much fuss. Visas are also issued on the spot at Tribhuvan International Airport or at the border checkpoints. It can easily be obtained at the Nepal/China border as well. When you arrive at the airport you must fill in an application form and provide a passport photograph. A single entry visa is valid for 15, 30 or 90 days and it costs $25,40 or 100 respectively. At the airport, you can pay this amount in any major currency but some land crossings insist on payment in USD. Children under 10 are required to have a visa but are not charged for the same. If you are planning to visit India, Tibet and Bhutan you could apply for a multiple entry visa. You can change your single entry visa to multiple entry visa at Kathmandu’s Central Immigration Office. Keep in mind that your passport must be valid for at least 6 months when you submit your visa application. For further information, you can easily contact the Embassy of Nepal.
All foreign nationals entering Nepal are required to arrange a visa either on arrival or beforehand. A Nepalese visa can be obtained either prior to your arrival at a Nepalese embassy abroad or on arrival in Kathmandu at the airport. Please note that nationals from Afghanistan, Iraq, Cameroon, Ghana, Somalia, Swaziland, Palestine, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Liberia cannot secure the Nepalese Visa upon Arrival. Nepalese visa can also be secured at entry points at Nepalese borders. A digital photo (size: 1.5” * 1.5”) will be required and the following fees either in USD dollars cash or the equivalent local currency:
Multiple Entry | 15 Days | US$ 25 or equivalent Nepalese currency
Multiple Entry | 30 Days | US$ 40 or equivalent Nepalese currency
Multiple Entry | 90 Days | US$ 100 or equivalent Nepalese currency
For further information please visit:http://online.nepalimmigration.gov.np/tourist-visa
Spring (mid February- March – April), Autumn (September – October) and early Winter (November) are the best seasons to visit Bhutan. Northern Bhutan lies close to the Himalayan Mountains and this makes it much colder than the rest of the country. The region receives snowfall during winter. Southern Bhutan with its tropical climate is the warmest. During the monsoon season (June to August) there is heavy rainfall and humidity. The endangered Black-Necked Cranes migrate to Phobjika Valley from Tibet during late October. October to mid-February is the ideal time for bird-watching tours.
Bhutan’s climate ranges from hot and humid in the tropical belt (southern and central Bhutan) to freezing in the north. Spring and Autumn(popular tourist seasons) are generally pleasant with clear skies and mild temperatures. There is heavy rainfall during monsoon or summer season. While the north remains shrouded in clouds the rest of the country gets drenched with heavy rainfall during this time. In winter there is heavy snowfall in the northern parts, while the southern and eastern regions enjoy pleasant weather.
Europe and Nepal share pretty much the same weather, completely opposite of the Australian seasons. January is the coldest month and July is the hottest. We can say that the climate of Nepal is moderate which means that winters are dry and summers are hot. The important thing to note is because of the huge range in altitude and landscape, climate in Nepal differs significantly. Monsoon lasts from around the end of June to the end of August. About 80 percent of the rainfall occurs during this period throughout the country but the remainder of the year is dry. March to May is spring and September to November is autumn and they are also the most pleasant seasons. During winters (December, January and February) temperatures drop down with a high level of snowfall especially in the high mountain areas.
The national dish of Bhutan is ‘Ema Datshi’ (chili with cheese sauce) and ‘Zow Shungo’ (rice with mixed vegetables). ‘Jasha maru’ (chicken stew), ‘Phaksha Paa’ (pork prepared with vegetables and spices), ‘Hapai Hanteu’(Bhutanese meat dumplings), ‘Kewa Datshi’(baked potatoes and yak cheese), ‘Tshoem’ (beef with mushrooms) etc. are some of the important local dishes. Bhutanese widely consume rice (red rice grown locally), meat items(yak meat, pork, cheicken, beef and mutton), chili peppers, dairy products( milk, cheese) and organic vegetables. Popular beverages include butter tea or Pho cha, ‘Ara’ an alcoholic drink and beer.
Bhutan tourism policy is based on sustainability and environmental protection. According to the Bhutanese government tourism in the country must be “ecologically friendly, economically viable and socially and culturally acceptable”. The government strictly regulates the number of tourists visiting the country annually. Independent traveling is not allowed and it is mandatory for all foreign tourists to book their tours with a government registered tour operator in Bhutan.
Bhutan’s unit of currency is Ngultrum (NU). Once you fly into Bhutan, you can exchange currency at the money exchange counters at Paro International Airport. Bank of Bhutan accepts foreign currency as well as travelers’ cheques. Foreign currencies that are accepted include US Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling, Indian Rupee, Swiss Franc, Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollar, Japanese Yen etc. Since banking and ATM facilities are available only in the major cities it is advisable to carry local Ngultrum while traveling in the rural areas. Only a few upscale establishments (hotels and handicraft stores) accept credit cards. When you shop for items or exchange currency you will be given receipts. Hold on to these as you may need to show the same while leaving the country. If you purchase antique items, you will be asked to show the receipt (of purchase) at the customs checkpoint. Receipt of foreign exchange (that you had received while exchanging currency on entering the country) may also be needed while exchanging the local currency to USD or other currencies.
Payment in hotels, travel agencies and airlines can be made in foreign exchange. Credit card payments are accepted at most business establishments. There are plenty of cash machines or ATMs in cities and most will accept cards issued by any of the major international banking networks (Plus, Cirrus, etc). The maximum withdrawal amount is Rs 10,000 in majority of ATM’s ( you can definitely make repeated withdrawals). Most credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, JCB and American Express are readily accepted at most tourist class hotels, restaurants, airlines and major tourist merchants. There is however a transaction fee for processing the cards (please note that this charge is enforced by the banks and not the merchants so it’s useless asking for a discount to remove this). The surcharge is usually around 4% or higher.
‘Dzonkha’ is the national language of Bhutan. Other than the national language, Sharchop, Nepali and Lepcha are widely spoken in Bhutan. English is used as the medium of instructions in most of the country’s educational institutions.
The Sharchops, living in the eastern part of Bhutan are believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. In the western part of the country live the Ngalongs, descendants of Tibetan settlers. Southern Bhutan is populated by Lhotsampas, settlers who came from Nepal during the nineteenth century. Brokpa, Dhakpa, Lepcha, Doya, Layap and Lhopu make up the indigenous tribes.
When you visit Bhutan you will rarely find Bhutanese wearing western clothes. Almost all of them will be attired in their traditional attire. While the men wear a kilt-like garment called ‘Gho’, women are seen wearing the traditional robe known as ‘Kira’, a blouse called ‘Wonju’ and a light jacket -‘Taego’. These traditional dresses are made with textiles woven on traditional looms. Accessories worn by the women include brooches and necklaces and earrings made of precious stones.
If on a trip to Thimpu, don’t forget to visit the lively ‘Weekend Market’. A local farmer’s market which is held during the weekends (from Friday afternoon till Sunday), the Weekend market has sellers from the rural areas selling handicraft items, cheese, honey, meat, vegetables, fruits, incense and an assortment of other goods. You can buy souvenir items at the market or the handicraft shops. Items worth buying include thangkas, traditional handloom items, handmade wooden bowls (Dappa), bamboo baskets (Bangchung), wooden masks, handmade paper products, Bhutanese traditional jewellery, rugs etc. Paro, Thimpu and Phuentsholing are the best cities for shopping.
On arrival in Nepal, your baggage should be cleared by the customs at the entry point. You are allowed to bring a personal laptop, camera, movie or video camera, 15 film rolls etc. apart from your personal belongings. If you purchase an antique in Nepal and want to take it home with you, the item will have to be certified by the Department of Archeology. In Nepal, it is illegal to take outside the country objects that are 100 years and older.
Please do not forget to provide your emergency contact information while filling out the form to book this trip. You can give the contact details of a family member or someone close to you.
Nepal is one of the safest and hospitable countries in the world for travelers (for groups as well as solo travelers). Nepalese are very warm and friendly towards tourists and most of them go out of their way to help visitors visiting their country. Having said that, to be on the safe side one should always take care of one’s belongings. Keep your cash, jewelry and expensive gadgets and accessories in a safe place. Try not to venture out alone during nighttime, especially at places where there are less people.
In Nepal the standard voltage is 230V and the frequency is 50 HZ. While in cities most hotels have multi-adapter style sockets but in the mountains the teahouses may have two pronged or three pronged outlets. It would be handy to bring along a worldwide adaptor with you to charge your devices. Some teahouses along the trail utilize solar polar.
We advise you to visit a physician specializing in travel related illnesses six months before your trip’s departure. Take the required boosters and vaccinations. Some of the vaccinations require six months for a complete course and it is advisable to take the full course before embarking on an adventure to a foreign country. You may not have to worry about tropical illnesses if you are trekking in the mountains.
On the trail while your heavy luggage is carried by a porter, you will be carrying a light daypack filled with your important belongings and accessories. Please note your baggage (carried by the porter) should not weigh more than 15 kg. One porter will carry the baggage of two clients.
The baggage allowance for domestic flights is 15 kg. You will have to pay for extra baggage if your total baggage weight exceeds 15kg.
If you join a fixed departure trip, you will be traveling with a group of people from different countries and backgrounds and of varying ages. It is a great way to meet new people and make friends. For all our fixed departure trips the minimum group size is 2 and the maximum is 16 people.
We offer airport pick up and drop off services. On arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, our representative will meet you and drive you to your hotel. On the last day of your trip you will be transferred to the international airport well in time (3 hours prior to your flight’s scheduled departure) to catch your flight.
It is always a good idea to have a travel insurance policy while travelling to Nepal. Nepal is an adventure destination and most of the tourists who visit Nepal come to see the high Himalayan Peaks and experience different adventure sports. You will reach above 4000m in most of the treks in Nepal and it is best to have a policy that covers medical and emergency rescues. Helicopter rescues and emergency evacuation is common in Nepal so you have to choose insurance wisely. It’s a wise decision to have insurance policy that pays directly to the hospital rather than you having to pay for it at the spot.