Travel Requirements

All tourists (excluding Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian passport holders) who wish to travel to Bhutan require a visa and must book their holiday through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or one of their international partners. The Madman Tours and Travels is a licensed tour operator under Tourism Council of Bhutan and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators. We will take care of Visa arrangements for you.

 

Visa Requirement

With the exception of visitors from India, Bangladesh and Maldives, all other visitors to Bhutan need a visa.

Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can obtain a visa at the port of entry on producing a valid passport with a minimum of 6 month validity (Indian nationals may also use their Voters Identity Card (VIC)).

All other tourists must obtain a visa clearance prior to travel to Bhutan.  Your Visas are processed through an online system by us.

You are required to send the photo-page of your passport to us and we will then apply for your visa.  The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of your holiday (including a USD $40 visa fee) has been wire transferred and received.  Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within 72 working hours.

At your point of entry you, will be required to show your visa clearance letter, the visa will then be stamped into your passport.

 

Minimum Daily Tariff

The minimum daily package covers the following services.

  • A minimum of 3 star accommodation (4 & 5 star may require an additional premium).
  • All meals.
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide for the extent of your stay
  • All internal transport (excluding internal flights)
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours

It also includes:

  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable tourism Royalty of $65. This Royalty goes towards free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.

The minimum daily package for tourists travelling in a group of 3 persons or more is as follows:

  • USD $200 per person per night for the months of January, February, June, July, August, and December.
  • USD $250 per person per night for the months of March, April, May, September, October, and November.

These rates are applicable per tourist per night halt in Bhutan.

On the day of departure, the ‘local agents’ host obligation shall be limited to providing breakfast only and any extra requirements shall be payable on usage basis.

The accommodations will be arranged in the hotels and lodges approved licensed by Tourism Council of Bhutan.

The Royal Government of Bhutan sets minimum selling prices for packages to Bhutan. These must be paid in US Dollars (US $) prior to arrival in Bhutan.

Cancellation Policies for Tours and Flight

Our judicious cancellation policy protects both the parties. After you confirm your trip we will assume that you have read thoroughly, understood it and abide by it:

Tour Cancellation:

  • Full refund will be made for the tour cancelled 30 days or more prior to arrival date.
  • 20% penalty on the total tour cost for the tour cancelled less than 30 days prior to arrival date. This is because by this time hotels would be already booked and company is subject to cancellation charges for rooms cancelled in less than 30 days.

Duration lost or trip shortened due to unforeseen reasons after arrival in Bhutan:  No refund will be made because we will already have had paid for the hotels and other logistics.

Flight Cancellation:

  • 100% refund permitted for tickets cancelled more than 30 days from the date of travel.
  • 50% refund permitted for tickets cancelled between 30 days – last 15 days from the date of travel.
  • No refund will be made for missed connections or “no show” at the airports.
  • Additional fee of US $10 is levied for every date change once the tickets have been issued.
  • For every cancelled ticket, an administrative fee of US $50 is levied.

Note: We reserve the right to change the policy any time without notice.

DISCOUNTS

  • There shall be no charge other than visa fee of USD 40 for children below the age of 5 years.
  • Children between the ages of 5-12 years shall be given 50% discount on minimum daily package rate.
  • Full time students below the age of 25 years, holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions, shall be given 25% discount on minimum daily package rate.
  • A GROUP SIZE DISCOUNT of 50% on minimum daily package shall be given to one person in a group of 11 people. 100% discount shall be given to one member in a group exceeding 16 persons.
  • A 50% DURATION DISCOUNT on ROYALTY shall be provided after the 8th night and 100% discount on ROYALTY shall be provided after 14th night.
  • 100% ROYALTY FREE ZONE DISCOUNT shall be provided on ROYALTY on first and/or last night for groups with night halt in Phuntsholing, Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar on arrival and/or departure

Please Note: Children below 5 years will not be eligible for GROUP SIZE DISCOUNTS, DURATION DISCOUNTS and ROYALTY FREE ZONE DISCOUNT and All Children and Students will not be eligible for DURATION DISCOUNTS

Tourists travelling in a group of two (2) persons or less shall be subject to a surcharge, in addition to the minimum daily package rates.

These are as follows:

Single individual – US$ 40 per night

Group of 2 persons only – US$ 30 per person per night

The 10% agency commission payable to agents abroad shall not be deductible from the surcharge.

The surcharge will not be applicable to representatives of foreign travel agents on business study or promotional visit duly approved and cleared by TCB.

Accommodation

A wide variety of accommodation is available ranging from luxurious 5-star hotels to cozy little hotels and home-stays in traditional Bhutanese homes and settings. Visitors can be assured of their warmth and comfort of the hotels. Similarly, the ambience and hospitality offered by the hotels are incredible.

The types of accommodations can be divided into:

  1.  Hotels
  2. Resorts
  3. Farm-stays
  4. Home-stays

Additionally, the visitors embarking on long treks will be provided with tents and whatever other camping equipment is deemed necessary. Regardless of where they stay, visitors can be assured of their comfort and traditional Bhutanese hospitality.

The way to Bhutan: Travel by Land and Travel by Air.

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.   The second entry route from the South came through the plains of Assam and West Bengal. The high, frozen passes in the North and the dense, jungles in the South made it extremely difficult to enter the country.

However, carefully planned economic development has made the country much more accessible and there are now a network roads entering and traversing the country, as well as one international and multiple domestic airports.

Today the main roads entering the country are through Phuentsholing in the south, linking Bhutan with the Indian plains of West Bengal, through the border towns of Gelephu, in the central region and Samdrup Jongkhar, in the east, that link with the Indian state of Assam.

All visitors to Bhutan require a visa to enter the country (see visa under the plan tab).  Visa clearance must be obtained before coming to Bhutan and travel must be booked through a Bhutanese tour operator or international partner.  Indian, Bangladeshis and Maldivian nationals can receive a visa on entry and it is not necessary for them to book travel through a tour operator, however it is recommended.  In the case of Indian nationals a passport or voters card are acceptable on entry.

Travel by Air

There are flights to destinations that include Bangkok, Delhi, Kolkata, Bagdogra, Bodh Gaya, Dhaka, Kathmandu, Guwahati, Singapore and Mumbai.

Paro is situated at a height of 2,225 m (7300 ft) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains as high as 4,876 m (16,000 ft). At present two carriers operate to Bhutan, Drukair and Bhutan Airlines. And there are 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 Aiport 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.

Visit  www.drukair.com.bt and www.bhutanairlines.bt for more information.

Travel by Land

Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrup Jongkhar are the only land border areas open to tourists.

The town of Phuentsholing in south-west is located approximately 170 km east of the Indian national airport at Bagdogra. After crossing Phuentsholing, you begin your journey to Thimphu, the capital city with travel time of about six hours for the 170 km stretch.

Gelephu in south-central Bhutan is another entry point to Bhutan. It is approximately 250 kms from Thimphu and the journey will take you through the sub-tropical areas of Bhutan before entering the alpine zone and then finally into Thimphu. One will have to traverse across three districts and the travel time will be about ten hours.

The district of Samdrup Jongkhar in south-east Bhutan borders the Indian district of Darranga, Assam and is approximately 150 kms away from Guwahati, the capital city of Assam. The journey from Guwahati is about three hours. Tourists entering Bhutan through Samdrup Jongkhar will take you to Trashigang, and from there over the lateral route to Monggar, Bumthang, Trongsa, Wangdue Phodrang and then finally into capital, Thimphu. The distance is about 700 kms and will take you a minimum of three days to reach Thimphu.

CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION

Visitors are required to fill up the Custom Form and hand over to concerned authorities on arrival. Following articles are exempted from duty :-

a) Personal affects and articles for day to day use by the visitor

b) 2 litres of alcohol, 400 cigarettes, 150 gms of pipe tobacco

c) Instruments, apparatus or appliances for professional use

d) Photogrphic equipment, video cameras and other electronic goods for personal use.

The articles mentioned under c). & d). must be declared in Custom Form. If such items disposed off in Bhutan by sale of gift, they are liable for custom duty.

Import and Export of following goods are strictly prohibited :-

a) Arms, ammunitions, explosives and military stores

b) All narcotics and drugs except medically prescribed drugs

c) Wildlife products, especially those of endangered species

d) Antiques

Also visitors are advised to be cautious in purchasing old and used items. Custom authorities will not allow any old / used items to be taken out of the country if they have not been certified as non-antiques. Imports of plants, soils etc. are subject to quarantine regulations. These items must be cleared on arrival.

Druk Air flights observes the baggage weight limit of 20 kg (40lb) in economy class and 30 kg (60) in business class so it can be troublesome and expensive to carry too much. Even if you pay for excess baggage, it still travels standby and may be offloaded. As with all travel, the less you carry, the easier it is to move around and the less there is to misplace. Due to wide range of temperature and climatic conditions it would be advisable to bring appropriate clothing. From May to September, cotton clothes are sufficient plus a woolen sweater or light jacket. From October to the end of April, you will need very warm clothes including long johns or woolen tights to wear under trousers and down jackets or coat. During visits to monasteries, Dzongs and other religious institution, you should be properly dressed and you should not wear shorts and hats. Casual clothes are generally more suitable though a set of formal wear might come in handy for festivals or in the likely event that you are being invited to a Bhutanese home or a social function. You will be outside a lot so you might also want to carry sun glasses, sun caps, sun cream and lip protection. Rain gear will be a useful item in your check list if you are traveling during the monsoon season from June through August.

The tour price does not include travel insurance. All visitors are advised to get a travel insurance cover as we do not provide travel insurance policy in Bhutan. Travel insurance will prove useful should any unforeseen or mishaps occur while your stay in Bhutan.

Tour guides are licensed and trained by Tourism Council of Bhutan. Our trekking guides have an additional mountain guide training including safety and first aid instructions to lead any size of groups. You will be accompanied throughout your stay with English speaking guide, driver and a car at your disposal at all time.

Tipping

As tipping is not compulsory but if you appreciate the services offered by our guides, drivers and service staffs, you may tip them according

The national currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. It is at par with Indian rupee which is widely accepted in Bhutan except for the denomination of 500 notes which are banned in Bhutan because of counterfeit. You can exchange your money with Ngultrum at the airport, hotels or from the Bank of Bhutan and Bhutan National Bank.

There are few ATM centers which cater to withdrawal of money. Credit cards are accepted in very few hotels and shops. All credit card transactions take extra time and are cumbersome to use. It is preferable to use cash dollars.

All the hotels are luxurious and are 3 star and above in Bhutan approved and regulated by Tourism Council of Bhutan. We will put you in the best hotels available in Bhutan. Visitors are advised not to expect luxury or five star hotels although a few luxury hotels have opened recently and that would come in with an additional cost on your tour payment.

Food

Bhutanese food is hot and spicy. For our visitors, however, Chinese, Indian and Continental foods are also served. The more adventurous can try hot Bhutanese dishes. For visitors on trek we serve simple but nutritious and tasty dishes. Meals are normally served in buffet style in hotels.

Rice is a staple with every meal. Vegetable or meat dishes cooked with chili and/or cheese comprise the accompanying cuisine.

Bhutanese food has one predominant flavor – chili. This small red condiment is not only added to every dish but is also often eaten raw. So, if you don’t like spicy-hot food, make this abundantly clear before ordering a meal. Otherwise, you’ll be spending the next hour dousing your mouth with cold yogurt or milk.

Drinks

Ara is local spirit brewed from rice or corn. It is popular in rural areas.

Tea. Located next to the tea growing regions of Assam and Darjeeling, a steaming cuppa remains the popular drink in Bhutan, with both the butter variety (suja) and sweet milk kind (cha) readily available throughout the country.

Coffee. The coffee culture that has swept most of the planet is just beginning to creep into the country. However, for the most part, coffee in Bhutan means the instant variety and it is served simply white or black.

We use comfortable and modern Toyota cars, land cruisers, SUVS and coaster buses for all group sizes. Every vehicle is rechecked properly before every tour to ensure the safety and comfort for all clients.

It runs on 240v system. The power supply is generally good but it may fluctuate sometimes.

Bhutan is 6 hours ahead of G.M.T and half an hour ahead of India

A departure tax of US $19 is levied at Paro airport. Subject to change without notice.

Bhutan is the first country to ban usage of tobacco products. Smoking is prohibited in the public places. Cigarettes may not be bought or sold in the country however visitors can bring in 200 cigarettes (1 cartoon) on 100% customs duty and 100% sales tax.

There are wide array of hand woven textiles, handmade paper products, woven baskets etc… the most popular purchases made by tourists are postage stamps which is world renowned in the philatelic community. Please note that buying and selling antiques in Bhutan is strictly forbidden.

Every district in Bhutan has a general hospital and is staffed with competent doctors and offer basic health services however, you should come well prepared with all the necessary medicines like anti-nausea pills, anti- diarrhea pills, oral dehydration packets, eye drops, anti biotic ointment, and anti-histamine ointment.

The rules and rates for filming in Bhutan differ from that of normal rates of tours and treks.

Tourists or professionals intent on filming in Bhutan must abide by Bhutanese Filming Regulations 1995 available with the implementing agency (Tourism Council of Bhutan) . The regulation does not apply to feature and cinematography films.

Application for a filming permit must be submitted to the Tourism Council of Bhutan TCB) at least 30 days in advance. The application must be accompanied by :

  1. Synopsis of the film – theme/ background /objective/purpose
  2. Specific location/objects/activities
  3. Composition of the filming team and the list of equipment including accessories and consumables( film crew members have to pay full daily tourist tariff)
  4. Letter of recommendation from sponsoring agency (application form available with TAB at a cost of Nu 300)

Royalty on filming

  • First 30 minutes or part thereof – US $10,000
  • Next 30 minutes or part thereof- US $6000
  • Every additional 30 minutes or part thereof- US $3000

In addition a security of $5000 must be deposited with TCB. The deposit will be refunded upon completion of the film to the satisfaction of Tourism Council of Bhutan.