The following are certain things that you have to keep in mind while traveling to Bhutan, which I came to know after my recent trip to Bhutan. I thought of writing about them here so that it is useful for others who are also planning for a trip there.
Getting into Bhutan
There are two ways to get inside Bhutan. One is to enter via Phuentsholing and the second option is to fly up till Paro and land there. To come out of Bhutan you can use the above two routes or come out through Samdrup as well. But you can’t enter through Samdrup.
Visa and Permit
For Indians you don’t need a get a visa in advance to enter Bhutan. You can get the permit on arrival, either at Phuentsholing or at Paro. You will initially get a permit for 7 days at Phuentsholing and using it you can visit only Thimphu and Paro. To stay more or visit other restricted places which I visited like Haa valley, Punakha or Bumthang, you need to renew your permit in Thimphu. The immigration office is located at Norzin Lam in Thimphu.
Bhutan follows a different timezone than India. It is GMT + 6 hours, which is 30 minutes ahead of Indian standard time. Once you cross Phuentsholing all times which are displayed are in Bhutan timezone. We missed our bus to Thimphu from Phuentsholing because of this timezone difference.
Bhutan has a very strict policy about smoking. Smoking or sale of tobacco products is completely prohibited inside Bhutan. The fine is pretty high and it also includes jail time if you are caught. So be aware of this rule.
Bhutan has a strict dress code for its people but it is pretty relaxed for tourists. Bhutan nationals are supposed to wear their national dress (Gho for men and Kira for women) on all formal occasions and places like government office, temples, Dzongs, monasteries etc.
For tourists when you enter Dzongs you should wear full pants and shirts with collars or full sleeves. The easiest option is to always carry a jacket and just wear it when needed. Even though not needed if you happen to buy a Gho or Kira, then they will be very happy to help you wear it. But keep in mind that it is not that easy to wear and are generally quite expensive 🙂
If you are anywhere near their national flag, you should remove your caps or hats. Also remove your footwear when you enter a holy place or temple. Most of the time it is clearly specified whether you have to remove your footwear or not.
The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha but pretty much everyone can understand and speak Hindi and English. Almost all the taxi drivers and shop keepers can also speak English. So it shouldn’t be a problem.
However if you learn a couple of words in Dzongkha like Thank you (Kadriche) or Hello(Kuzuzangbo la) and speak to them, they are very happy.