How large is Bhutan? Bhutan is a landlocked country, about 300 km from east to west and 150 km from north to south, encompassing 38,394 km2 (14,824 sq mi). It is no bigger than Switzerland has a sparse population estimated to be nearly three-quarters of a million.
What language is spoken in Bhutan? The national language is Bhutanese (Dzongkha), one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. There are 24 languages currently spoken in Bhutan, all of them in the Tibeto-Burman family, except Nepali which is an Indo-Aryan language. The majority of the people are fluent in spoken and written English and it is widely spoken in the major towns.
Do I need a Visa to travel to Bhutan? All tourists must apply in advance for a visa and receive approval before traveling to Bhutan. Wildland Adventures will apply for your visa so it is not required that you visit a Bhutanese Embassy or consulate. We only require a photocopy of your passport information pages and a copy of a passport-sized photo. Tourism in Bhutan is managed through partnership of government regulators and private travel agencies. There is no restriction on visitor numbers; however, there is a minimum daily tariff fixed by the government and flights to/from the Bhutan are limited.
How do I get to and around Bhutan? Paro International Airport (PBH) is the only entry point to Bhutan by air. It is located in the south west of the country and currently is only served by the country's carrier, Druk Air. Druk operates 3 planes which fly routes to Thailand, India, Nepal , Bangladesh and Singapore. There are also three land border crossings located along southern border with India. No border crossings are open along the northern border with China. The roads are generally very well-maintained and safe. However, due to the mountainous terrain they are twisty and they may be blocked by rock falls during the summer season. There are no railways in Bhutan.
Is Bhutan Safe for Travel? Bhutan remains one of the safest places in the world for tourists. Police in Thimphu are quite active - they make rounds around the city late nights to ensure safety. We recommend leaving your valuables in the hotel safes while sightseeing and carrying your currency and passport in a money belt or neck pouch and exercise normal precautions as you should do anywhere in the world.
When is the best time to travel? Almost any time of year is excellent to visit Bhutan. The most popular months are from in the Fall (Sept – Nov) due to the higher likelihood of clear skies and the pleasant temperatures. Spring (March – May) is a popular time for hiking in the rhododendron forests, for observing festivals and for the comfortable temperatures. Winter (Dec – Feb) is cooler with the coldest time in late January. Some treks are not available in higher elevations. Instead we recommend excellent low-land winter hikes. During December the skies are still usually clear and it is a good time to see the black-necked cranes. Summer (June – August) has a rainy season from mid June to mid-August, but most areas receive afternoon rains every few days. It is an excellent time to hike or trek as most of the wildflowers are out in summer and fewer tourists come then. Please see our Seasons and Climate section for more details on what to expect during your travels.
Are there any festivals in Bhutan? There are numerous festivals, or "Tshechu", in Bhutan. Tshechus are large social gatherings where people from various villages come together to witness religious mask dances which are based on incidents from as long as 8th century from the life of Guru Padmasambhava. Tschechu is celebrated on tenth day of a month of lunar calendar corresponding to the birth day of Guru Rinpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). The month of Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple. Mask dances are performed by monks and other men in monasteries and remote villages . Among the many Tshechus in the country, the most popular ones are in Paro and Thimphu.
Can I drink the water in Bhutan? It’s safer to drink filtered or boiled water. Bring your own water bottle and your guide will assist you with finding filtered and boiled water. All water on treks will be filtered or boiled.
What kind of food will I eat? Bhutanese red rice is the staple with every meal. “Ema datshi”, a mix of chees and chili, is a common dish. Stews with vegetables, lentils and chicken are popular. You will find momos and fried rice as well as butter and cheese. Most hotels serve a combination of Indian, Continental and Bhutanese foods and will adapt the heat for foreigners.
In addition to yogurt there are many drinks available such as the local spriit, Ara, brewed from rice or corn, to butter drink (suja) and sweet milk (ngaja). As Bhutan is located next to the tea growing regions of Assam and Darjeeling, a steaming cuppa remains the popular drink in Bhutan and the coffee culture is just beginning to creep into the country. For the most part, coffee in Bhutan means the instant variety and it is served simply white or black.
What are the most important cultural aspects I should be aware? Bhutan is the world’s last remaining Buddhist Kingdom. The king and former king are accorded a great deal of respect. Always pass mani stones, stupas and other religious objects with your right side nearest to the object, and turn prayer wheels in a clockwise direction. Never sit on mani stones or stupas. When visiting temples, remove shoes and head gear and wear clothing that expresses respect for the sacred nature of the site, such as pants and long skirts. In monastgeries it is customary to make a small donation to the monks as a sign of respect and also to the Buddhist statues as a means of developing a generous and spacious mind. Donations are not mandatory, but you will find many places in each temple where you can donate, and it is expected that you donate to each place. Remember to have small notes for this gesture. Products containing tobacco (cigarettes, chewing tobacco etc) are effectively banned throughout Bhutan although you can bring in product for personal consumption. Smoking is not allowed in public buildings, areas and at festivals.