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Bhutan

General Information

On the roof the world, nestled on the lap of the Eastern Himalayas, is Bhutan, or the kingdom of the thunder Dragon. Here, centuries old ways of life, culture and tradition blend harmoniously with modern times to create a fairytale realm like no other. Bhutan has never been colonized and the Bhutanese are fiercely protective about their independence. After centuries of self-imposed isolation, Bhutan has emerged strongly from the shrouds of myth as a nation exemplified for choosing all the right paths. Bhutan is perhaps the only nation in the world where billboards and tobacco are banned. Their absence further heightens the nations intact forest cover of more than 70 percent of its entire land and its prestigious standing among the 10 global hotspots for environmental conservation. Bhutan is also the recipient of the Champions of The Earth Award 2005 from the United Nations Environment Program.

Geography

The Kingdom of Bhutan is wedged between India and China along the lofty mountains of the eastern Himalayas, between longitude 88°45’ and 92°10’ east and latitude 26°40’ and 28°15’. With an area of approximately 38,394 square kilometers, Bhutan is comparable to Switzerland in both size and topography, being largely mountainous. With these borders a giant staircase is formed — from a narrow strip of land in the south at an altitude of 10,000 feet. These unclimbed Himalayan peaks are among the highest on Earth.

FOOD
CURRENCY
CREDIT CARDS
CLOTHING
WHAT TO PACK
PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDICAL & HEALTH

Bhutanese Delicacies are limited with spicy Chillies and Cheese. However you will be served a Buffet of
continental food with some local dishes too. On Treks, our trained cooks prepare dishes suitable to
western tastes ranging from continental to Chinese and Bhutanese to Indian.

Bhutanese unit of currency is the Ngultrum. 1Nu. = 100 Chetrum. The Ngultrum is at par with the Indian
Rupee. Approx. 1 USD = Nu/44.5

Credit cards are accepted in major Hotels and Handicraft Emporium to pay against your purchase bills
but not to encash money. You cannot encash money with your ATM Cards. It is advisable that you bring
cash dollars.

Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions, it is advisable to bring appropriate clothing.
From May to Sep. cotton clothes are sufficient, plus a woolen sweater or light jacket. From November to
the end of April, you will need very warm clothes including long underwear or woolen tights to wear
under trousers, and down jacket or coat. During visit to the monasteries, Dzongs and other religious
institution, you should not wear shorts, hats and should be properly dressed.

Clothes as per season, sunglasses/spare glasses or contact lenses, pair of casual shoes, washing kit,
shaving kit, towel, hat, umbrella, camera, film and accessories, maps, insect repellent, hand cream, small
sewing kit & safety pins, torch or flash light with spare batteries, mirror, sun screen cream, lip salve or
soluble aspirin, antiseptic cream, preparation for the relief of sunburn. You may not be tuned to the Asian
drugs so it is always better to bring own brand.

The photographic opportunities on all trips are immense. If you wish to record the local people, their
houses and shops etc. You can always ask by gesture, if it’s ok to take pictures. Also while visiting Dzongs,
monasteries, and religious institutions; please follow your guide’s instruction carefully. Photography inside
the Dzongs and monuments are not allowed. Although films and batteries are available locally, it is best
to bring it yourself.

Anyone who enjoys out door life and is physically fit can participate on our treks and tours. How ever
some treks maybe rigorous and difficult because of high altitude and therefore a good training of fitness
for at least a month at home is required for treks going to an altitude in excess of 4000 mts/1500 ft. there
are no compulsory vaccinations for travel to Bhutan.

Do's and Dont's In Bhutan

  • marvel that Bhutan is the only country in the world that measures its success by its index of GNH, Gross National Happiness, not by its GDP, Gross Domestic Product.
  • be aware that some of the Himalayan Mountains in Bhutan are off limits because of the ancient belief that gods dwell on the peaks.
  • be prepared to carry Bhutanese currency with you. There are no ATM machines in all of Bhutan, and most small shops do not take credit cards. US dollars, traveler’s checks and other currencies can be exchanged at major banks in larger towns, but remember that banks will typically close at 1:00 pm in Bhutan.
  • remember that while chefs in Bhutan traditionally make food extra spicy, they will also try to lessen the spice when preparing food for consumption by westerners.
  • know that GSM and satellite phones work in Bhutan.
  • be cautious about anything old or antique that you may wish to purchase in Bhutan. Customs will not allow anyone to export anything that is not certified as non-antique.
  • enlist the help of your guide or driver in selecting good quality items to purchase. They know what is the best, but they are often too polite to say anything unless you ask.
  • know that all visitors to Bhutan must have a visa approved prior to arriving in the Kingdom. All visa applications must be routed through local tour operators in Bhutan or a generating agent in your own country of origin.
  • wear shorts in public buildings and monasteries. It is a sign of disrespect. However, wearing shorts for hiking in the country and walking in towns is perfectly acceptable.
  • forget that all personal videos, cameras, personal computers, portable telephones or any other electronic device should be registered with the customs authorities on arrival in Bhutan, and will be checked again on departure.
  • forget that smoking is not allowed in most areas of Bhutan and the sale of tobacco products is prohibited in Bhutanese stores. Visitors are allowed to bring 100 cigarettes into the country, but they will be subject to a 200% tax

DISTANCE & DRIVING TIME BETWEEN VARIOUS PLACES IN BHUTAN

All mode of transport within Bhutan is by motor vehicle as there is no domestic airline or trains. However,
motor roads are well maintained and link all parts of the country.

From To Distance
(in Kms)
Driving time
(approx)
Thimpu Paro 54 2 hrs
Thimpu Phuentsholing 172 6 hrs
Thimpu Wangdue
Phodrang
70 3 hrs
Thimpu Punakha 76 3 hrs
Punakha Wangdue
Phodrang
17 40 mins
Wangdue
Phodrang
Trongsa 129 5 hrs
Torangsa Bumthang 68 3 hrs
Bumthang Mongar 198 7 hrs
Mongar Lhuntshi 76 3 hrs
Mongar Trashigang 91 3 hrs
Trashigang Chortan Kora 52 2 hrs
Trashigang Samdrup Jongkhar 180 7 hrs
TRAVEL INSURANCE
CUSTOMS AND REGULATIONS
EAR PLUGS
TIPPING & GIFT
SHOPPING
CURRENT
ALTERATION OF ITINERARIES

The costs that we offer do not cover your Travel Insurance. It is imperative that you have full
comprehensive insurance cover to protect against unforeseen accidents and mishaps. Such policies are
not available in Bhutan. It should adequately cover baggage and travel delays etc. and helicopter
evacuation, transportation and medical assistance incase of treks.

The Bhutanese authorities strictly prohibit the export of any religious antiquity or antiques of any type. All
personal electronics, Cameras, Video Cameras, Computers and personal electronic equipment may be
brought into the country but they must be listed on the custom form provided on arrival at Paro airport
and will be checked on departure. Two liters of alcohol and reasonable quantity of cigarettes may be
brought into the country without duty.

Compared to other towns, Thimphu has high number of stray Dogs. You may be disturbed by the barking
dogs at night so we highly advise you to bring ear plugs.

Tipping is at each visitor’s discretion are requested not to give candy, gum, pens, pencils, balloons, etc
to children, who soon learn to demand gifts; or not to hand out medicines to local people which may be
inappropriate for their medical problems and delay their seeking professional help. if you want to give
children pens, pencils, etc. it is better to give them to local schools. We will be happy to arrange a visit to
a local school if you indicate at the time of booking. Instead of gifts, you can show them books and
pictures of your country, your home, your children, etc. or teach them a song or game.

All visitors are welcome to visit the Handicraft Centre or all local shops, which contains a very wide range
of traditional and modern items. Beautiful hand woven textiles, postage traditional handmade paper,
colorful bamboo baskets, thangkas, centuries, ceramics, musical instruments and masks are some of
many favorite items for purchase from Bhutan. The textiles with intricate patterns that take months to
weave are made of cotton, wool or raw silk. Ethnic silver jewelry can also be found. The best shopping to
be found is in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

Current is 220-240 Volts. The plug is round, 3 prong – British type.

Axis Holidays reserves the right to modify or alter itineraries due to circumstances beyond our control
such as Flight cancellation, weather condition, political strikes or restrictions etc.

Climate & Average Temperature Of Major Towns

FACTS ON BHUTAN
NATIONAL EMBLEM (ROYAL CREST)
NATIONAL DAY
NATIONAL FLAG

Area: 38,394. (sq.km) Dzongkhags
(districts):20 Geogs (blocks): 201
Currency: Ngultrum
National Language: Dzongkha Capital: Thimphu
Official Language: Dzongkha Religion: Mahayana
Buddhism.
Location: Located in the eastern Himalayas; Bhutan is bordered Tibet in the north and the Indian states of
Assam and west Bengal in the east west and south.
Altitude: Varying from 180 metres to 7550 meters above the sea level.
Local Time: Six hours ahead of GMT and half an hour ahead of Indian Standard Time.
National Sport: Archery.
National Dress: Gho (Men) & Kira (Women).
National Tree: Cypress.
National Flower: Blue Poppy.1
National Bird: Raven.
National: Takin.

The National emblem, contained in circle, is composed of a double diamond thunderbolt placed above
a lotus, surmounted by a jewel and framed by two dragons. The double diamond thunderbolt represents
the harmony between secular and religious power; which results from the Buddhist religion in its varying form. The lotus symbolizes the purity; the jewel-sovereign power; and the two dragons, male and female
stand for the name of the country-the thunder.

National Day is celebrated on the 17th December in commemoration of the ascension of Ugyen
Wangchuk, the first King of Bhutan to the throne, at Punakha Dzong.

The rectangular national flag of Bhutan is diagonally segmented and depicts a wide dragon across the
middle. The upper part of the flag is golden yellow, which represents the secular power of the King, while
the lower part is orange, which is indicative of the Buddhist influence. The Dragon, whose white color is
associated with purity, represents Bhutan. It holds jewels in its claws, which represents the wealth and
perfection of the country.

We wish you a pleasant and memorable stay in the Last Shangri-la!