Bhutan has a single international airport where all flights from overseas land. Paro Airport is located 65 km from the capital Thimphu. Only three airlines are allowed to land at the airport – two domestic and one Tibetan.
Note: according to allcitypopulation, the population of Bhutan is 779,900 (2021).
From Russia to Bhutan can only be reached with a transfer – in Delhi, Mumbai, Singapore or Kathmandu, the first option is the most popular. Aeroflot direct flights from Moscow fly daily to Delhi, as well as Emirates (via Dubai), Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi). There you need to transfer to the flight of the national carrier of Bhutan, Druk Air. Travel time from Delhi to Paro is 2 hours 50 minutes.
Buying a Druk Air ticket is possible only if the tourist has a visa to Bhutan.
Citizens of Russia to visit Bhutan need a visa, which is issued upon arrival at Paro airport on the basis of an electronic visa permit received earlier. In addition, it is worth taking out a medical insurance policy for the entire duration of the trip in advance.
The sights of Bhutan are a huge number of important Buddhist monasteries and temple complexes, historical monuments and the amazingly beautiful untouched nature of the Himalayas.
The import and export of national currency in large quantities is prohibited, small amounts are allowed to be exported. Foreign currency is not subject to mandatory declaration at the entrance if the amount does not exceed the equivalent of 10,000 USD.
You can import up to a liter of alcoholic beverages duty-free. Tourists are allowed to import tobacco products for personal use subject to payment of a duty of 225% (however, no one at the customs of Bhutan will be able to check the original cost of a particular pack of cigarettes in Russia, the cost is indicated personally by the tourist on his fear and conscience, therefore the duty, as a rule, is not too hard on the wallet). Photo and video equipment, as well as electronic equipment, are recommended to be declared upon entry; upon departure, they may be asked to present a declaration and check the conformity of the amount of equipment being exported.
The importation of drugs, weapons and ammunition, explosives and dangerous substances, military equipment, antiques, plants and animals, as well as seeds and goods made from skins, bones, etc. is prohibited. Antiques can be exported from Bhutan upon presentation of a special certificate (issued by the antiques dealer).
The luggage of visitors undergoes a rigorous check at Paro Airport, and you should not joke with customs rules.
There are several dozens of accommodation options in Bhutan – from economical accommodation in private houses to luxurious holidays in a five-star hotel. Hotels in Bhutan are classified by the National Tourism Association and are rated from one to five stars. “Odnushki” and “dvushki” do not threaten tourists: tour operators undertake to accommodate foreign guests in establishments not lower than three stars. There are few really high-level hotels in Bhutan – a few high-quality “five” hotels throughout the country. But in such hotels for tourists – a full range of services: from a preventive “room service” to modern spa centers, where it is proposed to take a full course of Tibetan wellness procedures.
Guesthouses have a basic set of options, but here you can feel the real Bhutanese life. This impression is even more vivid in home-based boarding houses – locals rent out rooms to tourists and offer to join everyday life.
Mains voltage 230 V, 50 Hz. Power surges in the network are not uncommon, so we definitely recommend that you get a surge protector before traveling to Bhutan so that expensive equipment does not fail. There are also brief power outages.
The monetary unit of the country is Ngultrum (BTN), in 1 ngultrum there are 100 chetrums. Current exchange rate: 1 BTN = 0.74 RUB (1 USD = 77.83 BTN, 1 EUR = 81.88 BTN).
The currency of Bhutan, the ngultrum, is pegged to the Indian rupee. The Indian rupee and US dollars are widely used in the country. Foreign currency and travelers checks can be exchanged for ngultrums at banks or hotels.
Banks are open from Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 13:00, small offices in tourist areas can also be open on weekends according to the same schedule.
Credit cards of large international systems (Visa, MasterCard, Diners, etc.) are accepted in the capital’s hotels and large stores. In the provinces, you should not count on either currency exchange or credit card payments. ATMs in Tibet are not common.
Tipping is not accepted, but you can thank the guide and the driver of the sightseeing bus with 2-3 USD.
Useful phone numbers
There are no diplomatic missions of Russia in Bhutan and Bhutan in Russia. Visa permission is issued via the Internet.
Bhutan Tourism Corporation (BTCL): (2) 322-647, 324-045.
Bhutan Tourism Department (TAB): (2) 323-251, 323-252, 323-695.
In Thimphu: 113 – police, 112 – ambulance, 110 – fire department.
Transport of Bhutan
The movement of tourists in Bhutan is regulated by a route prepared in advance by the tour operator. This means that a group transfer with a driver is in 99% of cases the only option to travel around Bhutan.
The local population travels by buses that connect not only large cities, but also small towns. Among other things, in Bhutan there are many voters along the roads – a ride is often the only way to travel in the province. Despite the difficult terrain – numerous mountain serpentines – the roads are maintained in very good condition and are safe for driving. However, their sinuosity greatly increases the travel time. Rockfall is possible in the summer season, and landslides in the winter.
There are no railways in Bhutan, and there is also no domestic air traffic, although there are talks about the start of flights.
7 things to do in Bhutan
- Visit the legendary monastery Tigress’s Nest, located on a 900-meter-high cliff.
- Experience the variety and renowned luxury of five-star hotels in the highland capital of Thimphu.
- See the top of the mountain where the Thunder Dragon lives – the symbol and patron of Bhutan.
- Learn to eat fresh chili peppers without batting an eyelid, praising the spiciness.
- Buy a piece of colorful woolen fabric “yatra” and sew something for yourself for the chilly Russian autumn.
- Try to spot the Yeti in the Sakten National Park.
- Practice archery – the national pastime of the Bhutanese.
Rent a Car
Car rental in Bhutan is not common. Tourists are provided with organized transfers. However, it is possible to obtain a permit for individual movement, but the Bhutanese tour operator through which the tourist arrived in the country must also apply for it. But in this case, the tourist is most likely to be provided with a transport with a driver.
In general, Bhutan is an exceptionally safe country for tourists. In Thimphu and at the sights there are always a lot of police officers vigilantly keeping order. Cases of theft practically do not happen, but still it is worth keeping an eye on documents, money and valuables.
Vaccinations are not required to visit Bhutan, but for those who come here for the purpose of trekking in the Himalayas, it would be useful to have immunity from polio, tetanus, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis A, and also take a course of an anti-malaria drug shortly before the trip.
Bhutan has an official ban on the sale of tobacco products. However, tourists can use tobacco products imported with them in specially designated smoking areas. Smoking is prohibited in public places, the fine is about 175 EUR.
In conversation, respect should be shown to the former and current king and everything related to religion. Stupas and other religious objects should be bypassed so that the right shoulder is closer to them. Temples and monasteries should be visited in the most closed, modest clothing. Among other things, when visiting chortens and stupas, there is a whole set of rules of conduct, about which the guide will inform tourists.