Sunday, October 9, 2016

Required Information for travelers to Bhutan

Independent travel is not permitted in Bhutan. All travelers excepting Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals require a Visa which is issued only when a confirmed booking through a Bhutanese tour operator, either directly or through an agent, has been made.
Entry into Bhutan can be made by land and air. The two Airlines – Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are connected to Bangkok (Thailand), Bagdogra, Delhi, Guwahati, Gaya, Kolkata and Mumbai (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Singapore.
The town of Phuntsholing in south-western Bhutan and Samdrup Jongkhar in south-eastern Bhutan are currently the only two land border crossings open for international tourists. Phuntsholing lies approximately 170 km east of the Indian airport of Bagdogra and New Jalpaiguri Train station in the State of West Bengal.  Samdrup Jongkhar lies 101 km from Guwahati in Assam.
There are various ways of getting around in Bhutan. The most convenient is to contact a tour operator who will arrange a tour package to suit your needs.  You can also hire taxis. Bhutan is also fairly connected by buses.

A wide variety of accommodations are  available ranging from farm house stays to budget hotels to high end resorts. Most of the accommodations are basic but clean. Information on rates is available from the information counter of the Tourism Council of Bhutan at Phuntsholing or from the  Tourism Council of Bhutan headquarters, Thimphu. Three star accommodations are provided for all tours booked through a local tour operator for all tourists paying the minimum tariff (except for Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals). 
Almost all restaurants serve Indian and Chinese food. Bhutanese dishes are also available in all the restaurants, the favorite being Ema Datsi, a cheese and chilly dish. All Bhutanese dishes use an abundance of chillies so do order according to your palette strength. Besides the locally produced beer and whisky, the local brew, Ara, brewed from  rice, barley or wheat, is also popular with visitors.

Bhutan is popular for its textiles, but there are various hand-made arts and craft items for sale. Souvenirs range in price from a few pennies for small items to more expensive paintings (Thankas); also jewelry, statues, wood carvings, etc. are available. Royal Government of Bhutan established “Agency for Promotion of Indigenous Craft” to promote growth of handicrafts through the enhancement of skills and business knowledge of the craft/rural community by setting up shop space where they can sell their products. One such place is Craft Bazaar in Thimphu.