Bhutan is another small Himalayan country located in South Asia between China and India. Officially this nation is known as The Kingdom of Bhutan. Every year thousands of tourists visit this tiny Kingdom for the sightseeing of its stunning natural scenery and to experience its unique culture and tradition. In the world, Bhutan is the only one country where the majority of the people follow Vajrayana Buddhism. Everybody can see the influence of this religion in all tradition and all aspects of locals’ life. Bhutan is also called ‘The Last Shangri La’ because of its unspoiled environment and harmonious society.
In Bhutan, the majority of tourists do cultural tours where they visit important travel destinations. The travel places are Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, and Jakar. The major attractions in these destinations are Buddhist monasteries and Dzongs (fortresses).
Dzongs are ancient fortresses that now serve as administrative headquarters of each district. They were built in unique architecture without the use of cement, nails or plans and hold many art treasures. The prominent Dzongs are Tashichho Dzong (also the seat of Bhutan’s civil government), Punakha Dzong, Trongsa Dzong, Jakar Dzong, Simtokha Dzong, Gasa Dzong, and Rinpung Dzong.
Bhutan is also famous for outdoor activity of trekking. The Druk path is the most common trekking starts from Paro and ends to the capital Thimphu. However, many other more impressive treks are available. The Jomolhari and Laya Gasa trek are other very popular trekking. The Snowman Trek is reported to be one of the toughest treks in the world, taking an approximately 30 days.
Bhutan is the country which can be traveled year the round. But the best time to visit this nation is in the spring and winter season. In the spring (March to June) the jacaranda and rhododendron trees can be seen in full bloom. In the winter (October to December) visitors get an unmarred view of the snow-capped Himalayan range due to the clear sky with little to no rainfall.
In Bhutan, Paro International Airport is the only entry point to the country by air. It is situated in the southwest of the nation near capital Thimphu. Flag carrier Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines offer a flight to Kathmandu (Nepal), Bangkok (Thailand); New Delhi (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Singapore.
There are three land border crossings located along the southern border with India only. They are Phuntsholing in the west, Gelephu in the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar in the east. No border crossings are open along the Chinese northern border. Road permits are also required; however, these are processed by your tour operator, along with your visa.
Bhutan is a distinctive travel country and as such it has a few unique rules. All tourists except India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives must obtain a visa prior to departure. All tourists must book their travel through a tour operator). Visas are applied for online by your tour operator and it is not required that you visit a Bhutanese Embassy or consulate. Your holiday must be paid in full, via a wire transfer, to the Tourism Council of Bhutan account before a tourist visa is issued. Visa clearance takes no longer than 72 hours, once full payment has been received. At your point of entry, the visa will be stamped in your passport on payment of US$20, two passport photos will also be required.
Visa extensions can be obtained through your tour operator at a cost of Nu.510 (1 Ngultrum = 1 Indian Rupee) and the tourist will also be subject to the daily tariff for the additional days. Visas are issued on arrival to residents of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives only. Indian citizens are allowed to stay in Bhutan indefinitely with a valid passport.
In Bhutan, the Tourism Council of Bhutan operates the daily tariff for all tourists entering the country. It is not possible to enter Bhutan as a tourist without paying this tariff, unless you are a citizen of India, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. The daily tariff covers: a minimum of 3-star accommodation – Luxury hotels may incur an additional fee, all meals – Breakfast, lunch, dinner, a licensed Bhutanese Tour Guide, all internal transport – excluding any internal flights, camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours, all internal taxes and charges and a royalty of US$65.
The minimum tariff is (for a group of 3 persons or more): US$250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October and November and US$200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December. If tourist groups of two or less shall be subject to a surcharge, over and above the minimum daily rates applicable: Individual, US$40 per night and 2 persons, US$30 per person per night.
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