Bhutan is a tiny and remote kingdom nestling in the Himalayas between its powerful neighbours, India and China. Bhutan stretches around 300 kilometers in length and it measures 170 kilometers at its maximum north-south dimension, forming a total of 46,500 square kilometers, an area one-third the size of Nepal. The Himalayas in the north separate Bhutan from the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, while the rugged regional borders separate it from the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh in the east, Assam in the south and west Bengal and also Sikkim in the west. Bhutan's landscape is mostly mountainous with some fertile valleys and savanna and it is also the home to over sixty beautiful natural mountain lakes. The country has a multiethnic population of 760,000 inhabitants and the capital and largest city is Thimphu.
Virtually the entire country is mountainous, and ranges in elevation from a hundred meters along the Indian border to the 7,554m Kulha Gangri peak on the Tibetan border. These two extremes frame a landscape which stretches from sub-tropical to arctic like conditions. The maximum east-west stretch of the country is approximately three hundred kilometers and north-south about one hundred and fifty kilometers. Bhutan has four major river systems flowing swiftly out of the Himalayas that are regularly fed by glaciers in northern Bhutan. They flow towards Duars in the south and join Brahmaputra/ Physically, Bhutan may be divided into three regions from north to south: the Great Himalayas, the Inner Himalayas, and the Southern Plains.
Extending from Mt. Chomolhari in the West to Mt. Kulha Gangri near the center point of the northern border between Tibet and Bhutan, this region is virtually a snow-wilderness zone where almost twenty percent of the land is under perpetual snow. This zone is represented by alpine meadows and perpetually snow bound high summits of the Great Himalayan range.
This is the largest physiographic region of Bhutan and lies among broad valleys and forested hillsides from 1,100m to 3,000m in elevation. Several fertile valleys and all the major towns of Bhutan are situated in this zone such as Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, in western Bhutan, Trongsa and Bumthang in central Bhutan and Mongar, Trashigang in eastern Bhutan.
Also called the Himalayan foothills, this zone occupies the southern most part of the country. The plains in the south of the country are part of the region known as the Terai, which extends from Kashmir, through Nepal, to Bhutan. The average annual rainfall in this region generally is very heavy resulting in luxuriant vegetation particularly tropical forests rich in wildlife. Bhutan's most important commercial centers Phuntsholing, Geylegphug, and Samdrup Jongkhar are located in the Duars plains.
of the Bhutanese are involved in agriculture.
species of particular langurs are found in Bhutan.
species of birds are found in Bhutan
Bhutan is one of the 43 landlocked countries in the world.
This index is known as gross national happiness. Bhutan is the only country in the world to officially measure national happiness.
of the state must remain under forest cover at all times.
The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan's oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country's only airport. Mount. Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro river). Paro is also one of the most fertile valley in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.
Taktsang Lhakhang(The Tiger's Nest Temple) is Bhutan's most iconic landmark and religious site. The name Taktsang translates to "The Tiger's Nest". This temple is one of the most holy sites in the kingdom and clings impossibly to a sheer cliff face 900 hundred meters above the Paro Valley.It was first built in 1692 at a cave where Guru Rimpoche meditated in the 7th century A.D. Legend states that Guru Rimpoche flew to the site atop the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days and 3 hours in order to subdue evil demons residing within it. The cave has been considered a sacred site ever since and many famous saints have travelled to meditate in it.Taktsang Lhakhang is located approximately 10 km north of Paro town at an altitude of 3.120 meters. In order to arrive at the temple visitors must trek for around 2-3 hours through beautiful, shady pine forests. No trip to Bhutan would be complete without a visit to this remarkable heritage site.
It was first constructed in 1216 A.D. by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa where Dechen Phodrang now stands above Thimphu.In 1641 Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal acquired it but finding it too small, he built another one, known as the lower Dzong. The original dzong was destroyed by fire in 1771 and everything was moved to the lower dzong. The new building was later expanded several times over the years. It was damaged during an earthquake in 1897 and rebuilt in 1902. King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had it completely renovated and enlarged over five years after he moved the capital to Thimpu in 1952 in traditional style using neither nails nor written plans.Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby.The dzong is located close to Thimphu town, next to the banks of the Wangchhu River. It is an impressively large structure, surrounded by well-kept lawns and beautiful gardens.
Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the founder of Bhutanese state, built Punakha Dzong in 1637. It was originally named Puntang Dechen Phodrang Dzong, which means the Palace of Great Bliss.Punakha Dong was built on the 8th day and 8th month of the Fire Ox year in 1673. The Tibetan attacked the dzong in 1639 and 1644. The defenders successfully repelled the attacks. To commemorate the victory, a New Year festival was introduced, and Yu Gyal Gonkhang Chen Mo, "the great shrine of the protective and victorious Lord" was built. The first King of modern Bhutan was crowned in Punakha Dzong.Punakha Dzong remained the center of government until it was relocated to Thimphu. In 2011, the wedding of the 5th King was held in this fortress. Best time to visit this place is May as during that period the Jacaranda flowers will be blooming in the courtyard of the fortress.
Kyichu Lhakhang is a Buddhist temple in Paro. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the country built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism.To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. Of these 108 temples, 12 were built by precise plans.Thus, it happened that in about the year AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built in the very heart of the demoness. This is one of the oldest monasteries in Paro district. There's a belief that the two orange trees here in Kyichu Lakhang bears fruit throughout the year.
Jambey Lhakhang is said to be one of the 108 monasteries that were miraculously constructed by King Songten Gampo within one night. It is located in the town of Jakar in Bhutan.According to Bhutanese legend, the 7th century king subdued a giant demoness who was trying to prevent the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. To defeat her, King Songtsen Gampo erected 108 temples all over his kingdom. The act pins the demon to the earth, preventing her from causing more trouble.Jambey Lhakhang monastery is said to be placed holding down the left knee of the demoness while Kyichu Lhakang monastery pins down her left foot.
Gangtey Goenpa is on the way to Tongsa. Its almost 60 KMs away from Wangdue and the way is covered by the dense forests, mainly made up of oak trees and Rhododendrons. Gangtey Goenpa is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan and is situated on a ridge overlooking the Phobjikha Valley. According to a legend Gangtey Goenpa was founded by the grandson of Pema lingpa, Gyalse Pema Thinley in 1613 and later was expanded by Tenzin Legpau Dhendup. It is currently undergoing a major renovation scheduled to be completed by 2008.
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the periphery of the north western tip of the Black Mountain National Park at the altitude of 9,840 feet. The valley is a wide, beautiful alpine wetland valley and is a conservation area and lies on the northern boundary of the Jowo Durshing range. The hill side vegetation is mostly pine forest, interspersed with Rhododendron trees. Phobjikha valley is also one of the roosting grounds of the Black-necked cranes that migrate each year in winter from its northern habitats in Tibet and Siberia. These elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of the March. RSPN and Phobjikha community are now working together to protect the habitat of endangered Black Necked Cranes.
Adjoining the districts of Paro, Chhukha and Samtse, Haa valley is one of the most picturesque places in the Kingdom, spread over an area of 1706 sq. km. The valley is unparalleled in Bhutan in terms of the diversity of the folk culture, legends and shamanistic rituals. The shamanistic traditions is vividly practiced in almost all the communities, most notable of which is the annual ceremony to honor Ap Chundu, the guardian deity of the valley. The valley is also a paradise for nature lovers and travelling there is a very rewarding experience.
The drive to Haa valley crosses 3988m Chele-la pass, from where one can have a superb views of Mount. Chomolhari & Jichu Drakey. It is also an ideal place to take short walk, enjoying panoramic vistas.
All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan with the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives. All foreign tourists traveling to Bhutan must arrange all-inclusive package tours organized by an agent. The Royal Government of Bhutan does not grant tourist visa to independent and individual travelers.
First select the Tour program you are willing to undertake and finalize the dates. We will check the availability of the Druk Air flights for the dates. We will send you the program including flight reservation, invoice and payment instruction. You will have to transfer the full amount to the Bank of Bhutan to be credited our account. Bank charges involved should be borne by yourself. Fill up the Visa application form and forward to us. Your visa will be processed only after the receipt of payment. We will acknowledge you the receipt of the payment by e-mail or fax.
It takes minimum 10 days to process visa. So, the payment should arrive in Bhutan well in time. The Tourism Authority of Bhutan issues visas clearance letter with a reference number, which in fact, is the confirmation of your visa. You will be intimated the visa reference number. With this reference number, you can get your flight ticket issued from the Druk Air in Kathmandu, Delhi, Calcutta or Bangkok or you can make this arrangement for you. Your passport is stamped with actual visa at the port/boarder of entrance to Bhutan against the payment of cash US 20 with 2-passport size photographs. Extra copies of photos will be an advantage. You have to complete the passenger declaration form at your port of entry.
Visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items, especially of religious or cultural significance, as such items may not be exported without a clearance certificate.If importing any items to Bhutan which are for sale or gift, they may be liable for customs duty. On departure, visitors are required to fill out a departure form, which will be asked for by Customs authorities.
Bhutan's climate varies widely depending upon elevation. In the southern region it is tropical, with a monsoon season and the eastern part is warmer than the west. The central valleys of Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Mongar, Trashigang and Lhuntshi enjoy a semi-tropical climate with cool winters, whereas Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa and Bumthang have a relatively harsher climate including snowfall in winter.
In the valleys, where most tourist activities are concentrated, the winters (mid-November to mid-March) are dry with daytime temperatures of 16 – 18 degrees centigrade while evening and early morning are cold with night time temperatures sometimes falling below zero.
Spring lasts from mid-March to the beginning of June, with temperatures warming gradually to 27-29 degrees centigrade by day and about 18 degrees centigrade at night. However, cold spells are possible up until the end of April, with a chance of new snow on the mountains above the valleys. Strong, gusty winds start blowing almost every day from noon to early evening. The first storms break, and they become more and more frequent with the approach of the monsoon which arrives in mid-June.
The Indian summer monsoon lasts from late-June through late-September and is mostly confined to the southern border region of Bhutan. It brings heavy rains and high humidity to the southern region. These rains bring between 60 and 90 percent of the western region's rainfall.
At the end of September, after the last of the big rains, autumn suddenly arrives and the sky gets clear, a brisk breeze picks up and temperatures start falling towards freezing at night although bright sunshine continues to keep the days warm. Autumn is a magnificent season that lasts until mid-November and it is the best time to visit this fascinating mountain Kingdom.
Best Time To Travel - For the scenic beauty of Bhutan October to December is the ideal time to visit Bhutan as the air is clear and fresh with sunny skies. January and February are colder, but from then until April the climate remains dry and pleasant and in late spring the famous rhododendrons bloom spectacularly, flooding the valleys with color. Heat and humidity increase from May, and from June to September the monsoon rains cover the mountains.
The Kingdom of Bhutan remained largely cut off from the rest of the world up until the early 1960's. Entering the country was difficult as it was only accessible by foot from two main entry points, one in the North and another from the South. The Northern route was through Tibet, crossing high mountain passes that were inaccessible throughout the winters. In the south there is one overland entry point and two exit points .Both entry and exit can be done via Phuntsholing You can enter/exit Bhutan overland from the Indian state of West Bengal into Phuntsholing, a border town in the southwest of Bhutan. Four hours drive from Phuntsholing will take you to Bagdogra in the state of West Bengal (India) which is the nearest airport from Phuntsholing. Phuntsholing serves as a convenient point for travelers wishing to visit the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal along with Bhutan. The drive from Phuntsholing to Thimphu takes six hours.
You can exit via the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. Samdrup Jongkhar is in the southeast, 110 km from Guwahati, India, which is nearest to the Guwahati Airport. From Guwahati, you may fly into other Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkotta and to your onward flight connections. This exit is more convenient if the travelers do not wish to travel back the same lateral route to Paro for the flights and who would like to combine Assam trips with Bhutan.
At present there are only two carriers operating for the international connections to Bhutan. The airlines operating from Bhutan are Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. These airlines are flying from an airport located in Paro, about one and a half hours drive from Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. Both airlines have been flying to Bangkok, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Singapore and some major cities in India like Mumbai, Bagdogra and Guwahati. There are also domestic airports in Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Gelephu in south-central Bhutan. A second international airport is currently under construction in Gelephu along the southern border to India.
Flying into Bhutan's Paro International Airport is typically an exciting experience as the descent into Paro valley brings you closer to the mountain tops than most other flights in the world. The flight between Paro and Kathmandu is one of the most exciting ones as the aircraft passes over four of the five highest mountains in the world. In fine weather, as you soar higher up, you can enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kangchenjunga at their best.
However, during the rainy season and the foggy days in winter, the flights to Bhutan may get delayed sometimes so it is advisable to keep plenty of time available for the onward connecting flights. To escape such a situation, and to make your journey comfortable, if you want we can manage the best air travel connections aligned with your booked trip to Bhutan.
In the major towns such as Thimpu, Paro, and Phuentsoling, comfortable hotels await the visitor, while in smaller towns, modest, but adequate, hotels, lodges and guest houses are available. Your tour agent should ensure that the best available accommodations are arranged for you. The Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB), regulates hotel standards and all travel regulations in Bhutan. The cost of the accommodations are included in the tour cost.
The Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum (Nu.) and is officially pegged to the Indian Rupee. Ngultrum notes are in denominations of 100, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. The Indian Rupee is also acceptable all over Bhutan except Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. ATMs are located within all main towns throughout Bhutan, where money can be withdrawn using a Visa or MasterCard. In addition, POS (Point of Sale) services are available nationwide, meaning visitors can pay by credit card at most hotels and handicraft stores.
Financial institutions in Bhutan have been greatly enhanced and today we have a number of banks that cater to the needs of the people. Some of the banks that you can avail of while in Bhutan are the Bank of Bhutan Limited, the Bhutan National Bank, the Druk PNB and the Tashi Bank. Traveler's cheques can be easily withdrawn and exchanged for local currency.
All major towns are well connected with electricity that runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. It is recommended that you bring flat-to-round pin converters for your electronic devices; however, most hotels offer multi plug sockets. Bhutan is a carbon neutral destination as energy is clean and green generated by hydro power. All major towns and cities have basic communication facilities, including phone, fax, and email service.
Travelers who plan to visit Bhutan should consult a physician about high-altitude travel. After a brief period of acclimatization, most people do not suffer from altitude sickness; but elderly travelers or those with high blood pressure or heart conditions need to exercise caution at high altitudes.
It is suggested that you assemble a traveler's medical kit with appropriate medicines for your destination. On a tour in Bhutan, there are long drives, and roads are winding so medication for motion sickness is strongly suggested. You should also pack an adequate supply of any prescribed medications you may require while traveling.