Bhutan is a fascinating and scenic Asian country that is on the travel bucket list of many travelers around the world. Given the varying climate and seasonal rate of change, the best time to visit Bhutan is in the post-monsoon season of autumn. During this period, travelers will find pleasant temperatures and sunny days. So what else do you need to know before setting off on a trip to Bhutan?
Independent travel in Bhutan is opening up, but it's not something the government is encouraging. Generally, visitors to Bhutan must be tourists or guests of the government. The only other option to visit the country is to receive an invitation from a "citizen of some status" or a volunteer organization.
Passport holders from countries other than India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives must visit Bhutan on a guided tour. All visitors, except passport holders from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives, are required to participate in a pre-planned, pre-paid, guided tour or custom-designed travel program.
Thimphu-the captial of Bhutan
Everyone traveling to Bhutan must obtain a visa in advance except passport holders from India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Passport holders from the three countries, classified as "regional tourists", can obtain entry permits free of charge by presenting a passport valid for at least six months on arrival. Indian nationals can also use their voter ID. Citizens of these countries still have to pay a sustainability fee of $17 a day.
For other passport holders, the Sustainability Fee is $200 since 20 June, 2022. The visa fee is $40. Visas must be applied for and paid in full in advance from a registered travel agency (not the embassy) at the same time the remainder of the itinerary is booked. You should arrange travel at least 90 days before the trip to allow time to complete all formalities. Visas are processed by the travel agency through an online system and approved by the Bhutan Tourism Board upon receipt of the full travel fee. Visitors will receive a visa clearance letter upon arrival at the airport and present it at the immigration office. The visa is then stamped on the passport. Note: Please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months.
Smoking is illegal in Bhutan. Smuggling tobacco is even more punishable.
On December 17, 2004, the 87th National Assembly of Bhutan announced a ban on the sale of tobacco and tobacco products in its country, and on February 22, 2005, smoking in public places in Bhutan became illegal. According to the law, Bhutan prohibits any individual or shop from selling any type of cigarettes or tobacco products nationwide. Not only can Bhutanese people not smoke in public places such as parks, nightclubs, shops, bars, restaurants, and open-air markets, but even in any outdoor location, No smoking is allowed.
If someone is found smoking in the room, the police have the right to break in and put out the cigarette butt on the spot. Shops can be fined $225 for the first violation of the ban and may have their business license revoked for multiple violations. So, if you are addicted to smoking, it is best to be mentally prepared so that you will stay away from cigarettes.
Bhutan's climate is extremely diverse. This is due to the large changes in altitude, and the influence of the southwest and northeast monsoons from India. From late June to September, the southwest monsoon brings heavy rain and high humidity to the southern border areas of Bhutan.
However, after the monsoon from late September to November, there are sunny days and sometimes early snowfall at higher altitudes. Winter (November to March) is the northeast monsoon season, with strong winds blowing high-altitude mountain passes, hence the name "Drukyul", which means "land of thunder dragons". 2 Frost begins in most parts of the country in winter, with snowfall typically exceeding 3,000 meters. December and January are the coldest months in Bhutan, with nighttime temperatures dropping below zero in Paro, Thimphu, and Bumthang. Spring is usually pleasantly dry, with occasional showers and highs of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer.
Bhutanese eat rice, corn, and buckwheat as staple foods, and like to eat ghee, tsampa, and chili. Bhutanese cooking is very spicy, using chili peppers as vegetables rather than seasonings, adding a lot of dried chili peppers to any dish, and preferring raw chili salads to salads. Bhutanese also eat dumplings. Traditional Bhutanese food is hot and spicy. Because it is a high mountain country, Bhutanese love dairy products very much to supplement heat and moisture. Especially butter and cheese are indispensable ingredients on the table of local people, and the dishes with cheese are also very rich. Whether it is with vegetables or meat, it is a good choice.
Ema datshi-traditional bhutanese food
Chili is a must-have vegetable for Bhutanese locals. Yes, you read that right, in the locals' pepper is not a condiment, just the most common vegetable. According to records, Bhutan produces 10,500 tons of different types of peppers every year, and there are peppers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some Bhutanese even make fresh peppers into salads for breakfast. In Bhutan, even ice cream will add chili peppers, and the cold and spicy taste will definitely make people feel the feeling of "ice and fire".
Among them, Ema Datshi, the national dish of Bhutan, appears in almost every meal in the local area. It is usually made of fresh red or green peppers and stewed with different kinds of cheese. In addition to peppers, different side dishes such as bracken, mushrooms, potatoes, etc. are added in some regions. Even the most common scrambled eggs, Bhutanese will add a lot of cheese and dried chilies to make a bowl of cheesy scrambled eggs (Gondo Datshi), which is bursting with heat.
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