Where we go :: Bhutan

Mysterious, breathtakingly beautiful, and totally unspoilt, stepping into Bhutan is like stepping back in time. Its charming capital Thimbu is the only city in the world with no traffic lights. This remote mountain kingdom has an extraordinary diversity of scenery; from its lush valleys crisscrossed by streams and rivers to the highest point in Bhutan, Gangkhar Puensum at 7,570 the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. The landscape is rich in wildlife, with such rare creatures as the Bengal tiger, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, golden langur, clouded leopard, and the sloth bear live in the lush tropical lowland, while the alpine habitats of the great Himalayan range in the north are home to the snow leopard, blue sheep, marmot, Tibetan wolf, antelope and Himalayan musk deer. Along with providing outstanding trekking, Bhutan offers the chance to explore its ancient culture. The breathtaking Paro valley was one of the major trade routes into Tibet, home of one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, the 7th century Kyichu Lhakhang. Throughout the year there are festivals and colourful ceremonies. Bhutan is known for the happiness and warmth of its people and a trip to this enthralling destination is an unforgettable experience.

 

Know before you go

The climate varies with altitude, with the highest temperatures and rainfall occurring in the south, which bears the brunt of the monsoon between June and September.

Temperatures drop dramatically with increases in altitude though days are usually very pleasant with clear skies and sunshine. Nights are cold and require heavy woollen clothing, particularly in winter. Generally, October, November and April, May and June are the best times to visit - rainfall is at a minimum and temperatures are conducive to active days of sightseeing. The foothills are also very pleasant during the winter.

1 Ngultrum (BTN; symbol Nu) The Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee which is also acccepted as legal tender. Be warned: ATMs only accept Bhutanese bank cards. Travellers cheques are recommended and can be exchanged in any branch of the Bank of Bhutan or at all BTCL hotels. Travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.

It is illegal to sell tobacco. Offenders will be charged with smuggling and can expect to be fined. Imported tobacco products demonstrably for personal use are subject to a 100 percent tax. Smoking is forbidden inside public spaces. Personal computers, cellular telephones, cameras, or any other electronic device must be registered with Bhutanese customs upon arrival. These items will also be checked upon departure. The export of all antiques is strictly monitored. Be respectful of local monasteries and temples, removing shoes is often required and appropriate dress appreciated.

The people of Bhutan love to eat and every region has its own specialty. Bhutanese fondness for Yak meat is well known, but they also relish a vegetarian dish made of cheese and chilli called ‘Ema Datshi’. Bhutanese also love the dumplings called ‘Momos’. Though a Tibetan specialty, Momos have been popular for centuries. Chicken, Cheese or Pork Momos are favourites. The locals love hot spicy dishes and chillis feature in many recipies. Two categories of rice are used in Bhutan. The urban areas including Thimpu, Paro and Phuntsholing use the white rice while the rural population use the red rice. Rice based delicacies include ‘Desi’, a tasty mixture of white rice, butter, sugar, golden raisins and saffron and ‘Zow’ or fried rice mixed with sugar, butter and sometimes oilseeds. Both these are the favorite of His Majesty King Jigme Wangchuk and are served on special occasions.

Voltage: 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts). Primary Socket Types: Euro, British, Indian

You should familiarise yourself with the dangers of Acute Mountain Sickness especially if you are trekking in remote areas. Road travel is on winding mountain roads, and those prone to travel sickness are advised to bring suitable medication.

GMT + 5 hours