A country way off the beaten track, Bhutan evokes images of mountains, monasteries and magic, and kaleidoscopic fluttering flags. This Himalayan Buddhist kingdom offers a veritable treasure trove of Buddhist art and architecture, renowned for its sacred monasteries, and in the High Himalayas, its peaks are ideal for keen trekkers and mountaineers. The impressive Tiger’s Nest monastery clings to cliffs high above the forests of Paro Valley, and is one of Bhutan’s greatest symbols, along with the spectacularly colourful Cham dances which take centre stage in its frequent tsechus.
KEY FACTS BEFORE YOU GO:
- Capital: Thimphu
- Currency: Bhutanese ngultrum (Indian rupees are also accepted as legal tender)
- Time Difference: Bhutan is 5 hours AHEAD of BST, and 6 hours AHEAD of GMT
- Flight time: Flights are indirect to Bhutan, commonly connecting via Delhi (a visa for India will be required for transitting), for an overall flight time of just over 10 hours. Other connections are available (such as via Bangkok for a further flight of 3 hours)
- Official language: Dzongkha
- Entry requirements: Visas are required for entry to Bhutan, and are only issued upon arrival. However, you will have to apply in advance and receive approval before travelling, which is arranged via the tour operator. Keep a photocopy of your passport visa pages and flight ticket separate from the originals when travelling. Passports must have a minimum validity of 6 months' from the proposed date of departure.
There are restrictions on bringing medicines into Bhutan, and whilst you can bring your prescription and other medicines (in quantities for personal use only), you should carry copies of the prescription with you if possible. If quantities are larger, or you're carrying medicines not for your own personal use, you will need to check with the Honorary Consul to Bhutan.
- Vaccinations and Health: You should always ensure that you travel with adequate travel health insurance. For up-to-date information, please check this website (as recommended by the Foreign Office): https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/29/bhutan#Vaccine_recommendations. If vaccinations are required, it is generally advisable to arrange an appointment with a health professional four to six weeks before departure.
General information on travel vaccinations can be found on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/
To find out more, and for the most up-to-date advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bhutan
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