TIPS TO CONSIDER-WHEN PLANNING A "TRIP TO BHUTAN"
BHUTAN GATEWAY TRAVELS IS THERE FOR YOU
Bhutan is a safe destination to travel all-round the year. There are always pros and cons for making visit at different period of the seasons in Bhutan. Here are some fundamental tips to consider while planning to visit Bhutan.
Take note of peak & non-peak periods
The peak tourist seasons are Spring: March – May and Fall: September – November. In particular, March, April, October and November are especially busy. If you’re considering visiting during these months, it’s best to book your tour package and flight tickets at least 3 months ahead to ensure your reservation.
During peak time, due to the availability of only two airlines, tickets are often booked well in advance. So, to avoid disappointment, we’d advise you to plan ahead. More tourists tend to travel during this period as they are the ideal months for festivals and trekking, which are naturally big draws.
If you want to avoid the crowd of the peak tourist period, consider travelling during the non-peak period.
Know the Seasons
It really depends on what you want to see and do. If you want to trek, April, May, September and October are the best months with optimum weather. Although it is colder, the skies are generally clear and blue, and most importantly, it won’t be muddy. Do note that the monsoon season in Bhutan is from July – August and during this time, light rain (1-2 hours) in the morning is typical. Heavy downpours are rare, but we generally do not recommend trekking, unless they are short day hikes.
Winter is a good time to catch the endangered black necked crane in their winter home, the Phobjika valley and summer is a wonderful time for mushroom picking (there’s even a Matsutake Mushroom Festival) and to catch glimpses of (sometimes double) rainbows over the valleys. If you’re there to seek solace or for spirituality reasons, anytime would be a good time to go.
LOCAL WEATHER: Bhutan lies at the same latitude as Miami in the US, so expect plenty of sunshine all year round. The varying altitudes of the valleys within the Kingdom make for different microclimates, for example the lower valley of Punakha enjoys a sub-tropical climate whereas the higher Gangtey valley warm summer and cold temperatures throughout the winter.
SPRING & AUTUMN: (March to May & September to November) Warm days & cool nights (max 26°C: min 4°C), some chance of rain – Camping Trek Seasons (freezing temps at high camps) SUMMER: (June to August) Hot days & balmy nights (max 28°C: min 14°C), chance of rain – best time for flowers and birdlife
Timing up with festival
There are numerous festivals occurring throughout the year in Bhutan, though the popular ones such as the Paro and Thimphu Tshechu happen during the high tourist season. Festivals in Bhutan usually showcase colorful dances in elaborate costumes, with Bhutanese in attendance dressed to their best and unsurprisingly, tend to be huge tourist draws.
Apart from religious festivals, there are a range of other festivals such as the Rhododendron Festival, Black Necked Crane Festival, Royal Highlander Festival, Ura Matsusake Mushroom Festival and Haa Summer Festival, to name a few.
Experience a Home Stay
You are missing the authentic experience if you don’t plan to experience a home stay in Bhutan. This aspect is not on our part to save money from the money spent on the trip, many travelers’ want to unwind in the comfort of a hotel room. Others however, love the authenticity of staying with a local family and having the firsthand experience of what daily life is to a Bhutanese.
Some things to take note of if you’re seriously considering this option: while some families have modern facilities, not all families have electricity or a hot shower – they may have to boil the water using firewood. What they lack in facilities however, they’ll more than make up for with unparalleled hospitality.
Closing with LUXURY
In Bhutan, much of your time will be spent in the car travelling from valley to valley and destination to destination. After driving through this beautiful country and possibly experiencing a homestay with a local family, consider ending your trip with a pampering, luxurious stay in a 5-star accommodation such as Uma Paro (where actors Tony Leung and Carina Lau got married) with their complimentary yoga sessions overlooking the charming Paro valley. Choose from their range of other holistic wellness programmes such as guided meditation, ayurvedic therapies or pampering massages.
Luxury hotels include:
Taj Tashi – Pemako
Most hotels have WiFi, but if you need more connectivity, please let us know in advance, our guide will arrange a local SIM card from Tashi Cell or B-Mobile and top up with prepaid cards.
What to pack
Do pack warm clothes, especially if you’re travelling between the months of November and March. As a general tip, it would be wise to always have a jacket when travelling in Bhutan regardless of the seasons as you will experience huge changes in elevation, with certain valleys colder than others. It’s best to be prepared!
Prepare some of your own entertainment for the flight as well as trip. Bring some books to read and save movies to watch on your laptop or tablet. Apart from Thimphu and Paro, nightlife is non-existent and most hotels tend to be a distance away from the main town.
The roads tend to be windy so if you are prone to motion sickness, bring Dramamine or other medication to prevent nausea as you will be spending a lot of time in the car travelling around Bhutan.
Bring along a multi-purpose electrical plug and a universal travel adapter. Most hotel rooms have limited electrical plugs options, so it’ll be wise to take along if you have many devices.
When taking photos/filming inside Dzongs, monasteries, temples, or any religious institutions, check with your guide whether it is permitted as some areas do not allow it.
If there are any underlying medical conditions, which require regular medication, we strongly suggest you to bring the required medications with prescription. The medicines may not be available in Bhutan. Bhutan has very stringent regulation on use of specific medications which are not approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority.
FAQ related to visa
Your visa will be taken care by Bhutan Gateway Travel. You are requested to email us a clear valid passport with validity of six months or more prior to your visit to Bhutan.
Once approved, Bhutan Gateway Travel will email you the electronic visa (e-visa) approved by the Department of Immigration. You will print and hand carry a copy of the approved e-visa.
In case of emergency, based on the merit of the case, we will pursue with the relevant authority and get it extended. However, under normal circumstances, it is not possible to get the visa extended.
Three to five government working days.
FAQ related to SDF
The new SDF of US$100 per person per day will become effective from 1 September 2023.
The new SDF shall remain effective for four years until 31 August 2027.
Any guest who already paid the SDF for their upcoming visit to Bhutan is eligible for a refund of the excess SDF amounts paid.
When applying for a visa to enter Bhutan, you will need to pay the SDF. Visas can be applied for at the Department of Tourism’s website.
No, the incentives introduced in June 2023 have been revoked and are no longer applicable. However, the 24-hour SDF waiver for border towns in Bhutan remains valid.