Journey to Bhutan Tours & Travels


Travel in Bhutan
Travel to Bhutan necessarily requires a pre-arranged trip with a tour company (like us!). You can either travel individually, according to your own pre-made itinerary, or join a group. At Journey to Bhutan Tours & Travels, we handle both kinds of tours, as it is the same procedure for either.

Visa Formalities and Fees

By Bhutanese tourism law, any tour in the country requires payment in full, before the tour begins, based on a daily tariff. The daily tariff will vary depending on a variety of factors, such as number of people in the group and nature of the tour. The minimum daily tariff, per person traveling in a group of three or more will be US $250/night. This is the base rate we start from. For groups of one or two, there is a surcharge on this ($40/night for individual; $30/night/individual for couples). For larger groups, we assume shared accommodations, but we can ensure guests in larger groups have their own rooms for a single supplement charge. Some of our tours, in particular some treks, paragliding, birdwatching and some customized tours, may have added charges on top of this, depending on the particular services provided. There are also some discounts available in the off seasons. The best way to know the cost of your trip will be to send us an email!

On top of the daily tariff, there will be a few extra one-time charges, including visa fee ($40), Tourism Development Fund ($10), and transfer charges (around $30 per transfer).

But don't let the relatively expensive tariff put you off from travel! The tariff includes all meals, accommodations, local transportation, local guide, and entry fees. So, once you're here, all your basic expenses are covered. In this way, travel to Bhutan is fiscally comparable to travel in many parts of Europe. The hotels will be 3- or 4-star equivalents (though see below for luxury hotel possibilities). On top of that, the Bhutanese government takes a large portion of the tariff in order to offer free education and health care. So, you can feel good about your money contributing to a good cause. Your health care will also be covered while you are in Bhutan.

Here's a general outline of how booking your trip works:

1. Decide on an itinerary, either by building your own or by joining a pre-set tour. We will work on this with you through email or phone.
2. We will send you an invoice for the cost of the tour (daily tariff * # nights plus a few small fees) and the cost of the Druk Air ticket into Bhutan (Druk Air flies from Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu, Calcutta, Bagdogra, Gauhati, and Dhaka).
3. You wire the payment of the tour to our company account in Bhutan (via a Standard Chartered Bank account in the U.S. -- it is a little strange, we know, but this is the way it is).
4. We arrange your visa, book your Druk Air ticket, and arrange all the other details of the tour.
5. We send you a copy of your visa approval and Druk Air e-ticket (please print both of these out and bring them with you!)
6. Generally, the guests (you) make their own arrangements to their port of travel into Bhutan (e.g. their own transportation to Bangkok). However, we can also help you with this if you like.
7. You travel to Bhutan, where your guide will pick you up from the airport, and you will have nothing else to worry about until you leave!
8. Keep in mind that although the tour covers all meals and accommodations, you may like to bring extra cash to pay for drinks (bottled water is included in the trip), laundry, souvenirs, tips, etc.

Other:

a) There shall be no charge for CHILDREN up to the age of 5 years. However, those between the ages of 6-12 years accompanied by guardians shall be given 50% discount on daily rates.
b) Full time STUDENTS below the age of 25 years holding valid identity cards from their academic institutions shall also be given a 25% discount on daily tariff.
c) For groups larger than 10, a 50% discount will be given for the 11th person. For groups larger than 16, the 17th person will be given 100% discount.

Visa
We handle all the visa applications and arrangements, but the actual visa will be stamped in your passport on arrival. The maximum given on arrival is 15 days. If your tour is longer than this, we will need to renew your visa in Thimphu for a charge of $40.

Cancellations
Tour programs booked and subsequently cancelled shall be subject to cancellation charges as follows:

*within 30 days of start of program ~ no charges
*within 21 days ~ 10% of rate
*within 14 days ~ 15% of rate
*within 7 days ~ 30% of rate
*less than 7 days or without notice 21 days ~ 50% of rate
*after arrival in Bhutan ~ 10% of rate

Delayed Arrivals
There is no charge for delays in arrival and departure because of weather conditions, disrupting flights, or road blocks. The tourist must, however, bear the cost of food, accommodation, transportation, and other services required.

Deluxe Accommodation
For guests who don't mind paying extra for the added comfort of a luxury resort, Bhutan has a few special places to offer. In Thimphu, Paro, Phobjikha, Punakha and Bumthang, Amankora resorts are an option. In Paro you can also choose from Uma or Zhiwaling resorts. You are welcome to contact these hotels directly with your queries, or simply send us an email and we will inquire on your behalf. The added expenses will vary, of course, but in general you should expect at least several hundred dollars additional per night per luxury room.

Health
Should any health issues arise during your trip, Bhutan offers free health care to everyone in the country, guests included. However, depending on the particulars, Bhutanese health care may not be up to western standards, and so it is advisable that guests make arrangements with their insurance companies prior to arrival in Bhutan. Similarly, it is advisable to discuss any necessary vaccines or prophylaxis with your physician.

Money
While INR (Indian rupees) are generally accepted in Bhutan (the Bhutanese 'Ngultram is tied to the INR), denominations of 500 and 1000 are not accepted in Bhutan. Thimphu now has several ATMs which allow access to international bank accounts, so you should be able to access your accounts from Bhutan. But please check with your bank before leaving, and we advise always traveling with additional cash, just in case.

Electricity
All major towns are connected with electricity which runs on 220/240 volts with round hole two-pin and three-pin power outlets. If you didn't bring your adapter from home, chances are we can find one in Thimphu to work for your appliances. You can feel good about using electricity in Bhutan as it all cleanly generated by hydropower.

Communication
Bhutan has a good network of telephone and internet facilities throughout the country. Chances are your hotel will have wireless internet access and much of the country is connected with Bhutan Telecom's mobile network (3G available in Thimphu and Phuntsholing).

What to Bring
Bhutan experiences a significant variation in its climate, both throughout the year and throughout the different regions. You can check with us for the details, depending on your particular itinerary, but in general it is a good idea to plan for warm and cool weather. Long underwear and useful in the winter and short sleeves will be comfortable in the summer. Sunscreen is useful year-round. Other necessities could include: sunglasses, antiseptic cream, antihistamines, painkillers (and other medications you may take), insect repellent (in the summer) and camera (of course!). If you travel during the rainy season, we would also advise rain gear, including an umbrella.

Other Questions? Just ask!


P.O. Box 302, Thimphu, BHUTAN               
Phone (Bhutan): +975 17546725/17641235; (Australia): +61 (0) 408181955             
  info@journeytobhutantravels.com or journeytobhutan@gmail.com               

        
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