Bhutan Information
Custom Adventure Travel tours to Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan

BHUTAN Essential Information


This page provides important information to help you plan and prepare for your journey. Please contact us with any questions or queries to help plan your trip.

Situated in the eastern Himalaya, bordered by India to the South and Tibet (China) to the North, Bhutan has never been colonised and is proud of its heritage and traditions. A small buddhist populution, a strict tourism policy and a strong policy of environmental and cultural preservation has protected Bhutan from the ravishes of tourism, modernisation and globalisation.

Bhutan is a "closed" country, but with the correct permits small groups of tourists are allowed to travel in Bhutan. We work closely with our Bhutanese partner to create fascinating and spectacular itineraries often coinciding with Buddhist festivals to share our passion for this unique country.

FACTS ABOUT BHUTAN

Area: 38,398 sq. km
Geography:Located between India and Tibet with Sikkim to the West and Arunachal Pradesh to the west.
Capital: Thimpu
Population: 650, 000
Language:Dzongkha is the official language and there is 24 other dialects spoken.
Currency: Ngultrum (Nu.) (the same value as the Indian Rupee which is also acceptable as legal tender.
Political System: Multi - Party Democracy with constitutional monarchy
Climate: Bhutan has four major seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer (Monsoon), Fall
Winter: December to February
Spring: March to May
Summer: June to September
Autumn: October to November

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For detailed cultural information on Bhutan we highly recommend visiting the BHUTAN CULTURAL ATLAS, a resource project of The Institute of Language and Culture Studies, based in Thimphu.

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TRIP DIFFICULTY RATINGS Anyone who is in good health and mentally prepared can travel in Asia and undertake our easy cultural trips. Some treks however are more strenuous and entail many days at higher altitude. Please read the trip notes carefully and pay heed to our trip gradings. If you are not sure about your suitability for a trip, contact us for advice.

  • EASY: These trips involve softer adventure and no strenuous activities. We do some gentle hiking and the ocassional optional hill climb to get a good view or visit a monastery. Accomodation usually has a 4 or 5 star option if you choose.
  • MODERATE: The trip is venturesome simply because it is in Tibet, but your tour will not invovle strenuous physical activity. Easy walking will be involved but these tours are suitable for anyone in decent health. Roads can be rough with high altitude passess and accomodation on some nights may not have hot running water.

  • ADVENTUROUS: A Reasonably good level of fitness is required. Accomodation often includes camping. The comforts of hotels and restaurants may not be available for extended periods. trekking may not be involved but the stages will not be long and the duration not more than a few days. Long driving days on rough roads over high altitude passes are common and there will be several nights in basic accomodation without running water.

  • CHALLENGING: A high level of fitness is required and some pre-trip training should be undertaken. Trekking days may be long on difficult paths at high altitude. Rafting and kayaking may involve long physical days on difficult whitewater. These trips often involve camping for extended periods and the comforts of hotels and restaurants may not be available.

  • EXPERT: A specific skill is required such as kayaking or mountaineering. These trips will require working together as a team to meet a difficult goal such as a first descent of a river on an extended kayaking expedition. A high level of physical and psychological stamina is required and prior experience must be discussed with the trip leader.

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ACCOMODATION AND FOOD: These days a wide range of accomodation is available from rustic 3 star guesthouses to 5 star resorts. Bhutanese cuisine is based around rice, vegetables and chilli's! But don't worry, many chef's have recieved western training and you'll find a range of western food available.

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WHEN TO GO: WEATHER

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

cool/cold & damp

warm, dry & hazy

monsoon

warm, dry & clear

cool/cold & damp

Overall the seasons in Bhutan are similar to Nepal but the weather is cooler and more unpredictable. The trekking seasons are from late September until early December and from March to end of May. During the monsoon (June to September), trails are very wet and the clouds obscure views, making trekking unsuitable.

The most popular time to trek and travel is Autumn (October and November) after the monsoon. The air has been washed crystal clear by the rains, the weather is more stable and daytime temperatures are warmer, nights are cool and skies often clear.

If you are going up to very high altitudes, you may not want to plan your trek for the heart of Winter (December to February). Night temperatures can be bitterly cold up high and it is often cold and wet in Thimpu and Paro.

In the Spring (March to late May), expect warmer day temperatures, but hazy visibility and cloud cover are also more likely, especially in the afternoons. However, it is the season when the spectacular wildflowers blossom, including the wonderful rhododendrons.

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HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS: We recommend that you visit your doctor or health-care provider well in advance of your departure date to get up to date health information. Many cities have specialized travel clinics which specialize in vaccintations and providing travel related health information. Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

For more detailed health information CLICK HERE

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GETTING TO BHUTAN: When you book your trip we always include airfares in the services we provide. Flights into Paro depart from Kathmandu, Calcutta and Bangkok. Flights into Bhutan do not depart everyday and schedules often change so its wise to plan a contingency dy at the end of your trip before connecting with you international flight.

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TRAVEL INSURANCE: Insurance is compulsory on all Griffon Expedition's trips. Your policy must cover accidents, medical expenses, and emergency evacuation including helicopter rescue, air ambulance, and personal liability. We also recommend your insurance policy covers cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. You are required to carry proof of insurance with you, and to produce it if requested by Griffon Expedition's employees or agents. For our climbing and mountaineering trips, you must be covered for mountaineering activities (use of ropes and ice axe, etc). Please note that most standard travel insurance policies DO NOT cover you for mountaineering activities. We can recommend an international company that does cover mountaineering. If you arrive at the beginnig of the trip without proof of adequate insurance we reserve the right to deny your particpation on the trip with no refund.

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VISAS AND PERMITS Bhutanese visas are included in all tour prices. All you have to do is email us a small but readable jpg format image of your passport info page and we arrange everything for you. This also includes any restrcited area and trekking permits.

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COSTS AND PRICING: Trips to Bhutan are usually more expensive than other destinations in the Himayala because of the strict government tourist "tax". There is a minimum fee of $200/day (inclusive of all services) to enter Bhutan. Except for the occasional fixed departure, all our trips to Bhutan are customized private trips and we will provide a quote based on your planned itinerary and level of service. PLEASE EMAIL US FOR A QUOTE.

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HOW TO BOOK A TRIP:

Contact us by email or through our online "Trip Inquiry Form": Provide us with us much detail as possible about your travel plans.
We will respond with a sample itinerary and quote (if it is customized trip). Once we finalise the trip details we forward an invoice by email

To confirm your trip you must:

  • Download Relevant documents from the side bar on this page
  • Make a $500/person deposit to secure a reservation
  • Email us the bank form as proof of transaction
  • You will recieve a reciept from us and invoice for the outstanding balance
  • Pay the balance no later than 40 days prior to departure
  • Once again we forward receipt for full payment along with detailed trip notes for your trip
  • Forward a small but readable jpg format image of your passport information page
  • Please ensure you also forward your international flight information which you have booked yourself

We do not make any service confirmations until a deposit is made. We recommend paying well in advance to ensure the best hotel bookings, the best staff available and to ensure external price chances (such as domestic flights etc)

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TREKKING IN BHUTAN: G

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TREKKING TRIP SELECTION: Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can join one of our treks. However, for your own enjoyment, it is important that you read our trek descriptions. We give each of our treks a rating (See: Trip Difficulty Ratings). These indicate the effort and challenge level based on the length of time walking each day, the difficulty of terrain covered and the altitude reached. Please select the grade of trek you feel comfortable with.

Whatever your choice, the more physical preparation you do, the more you will enjoy your trip.

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PHYSICAL PREPARATION: Being physically prepared for your trip is essentail - Take regular exercise, and include some day trips where you walk for the suggested maximum number of hours for your intended trek. Wear the gear that you plan to take, so that you know you will be comfortable in it. In particular, break in any new equipment (boots and pack, for example) before you come.

For treks rated Challenging (Mountaineering) or Expert, we advise that your level of fitness should be high. You should be involved in regular aerobic exercise - for example, swimming, cycling, running, or uphill walking carrying a load on your back. Stamina is a key aspect - both physical and mental. Remember that altitude is a significant factor, and a slow but steady pace is the best way to succeed in the mountains. Even if you are a super-fit athlete, don't expect to be able to perform as you would at sea level!

Please contact us personally if you require further advice about choosing or preparing for your trip.

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PRE-TRIP RECOMMENDED READING To enhance your enjoyment of your trip it is highly recommended that you undertake some pre-trip reading. Quite often we may recommend specific books that provide a background for a specific trip. Here are some general reading we recommend before coming to Bhutan.

BHUTAN Himalayan Mountain Kingdom by Francoise Pommaret
A great general guide to Bhutan

LONELY PLANET Bhutan travel guide by Lindsay Brown, Stan Armingtan and Bradly Mayhew
A 2007 update from the classic Lonely Planet series.

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