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Bhutan - The Land of Thunder Dragon

 

 
Behind the great natural barriers of the Himalayas lies the hidden Kingdom of Druk Yul, the land of the Thunder Dragon. Bhutan, the last of the Mahayana Buddhist Kingdoms, this remote and mystical country is still one of the most unspoiled places in the world. Wedged between India and China, the Kingdom covers approximately 46,000 square kilometers with an ecosystem ranging from subtropical to alpine. The population of a little over half a million mostly live in small villages scattered along the mountain slopes and valleys.

Bhutan was hidden and unknown to the world for years and the discerning travellers and was a forbidden land for the outsiders. However, upon the coronation of the present King, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1974, Bhutan opened to tourism and is one of the most exclusive and sought after destination today. It welcomes one and all to its folds of natural beauty, mountain peaks, dense forests and the fast flowing valleys, diverse wildlife, its unique arts and architecture, culture and above all the lovely people. A trip to Bhutan teaches the real meaning of life and real living.

 

By Air - The only airport is at Paro. Bhutan's national airline, Druk Air, is the only airline servicing Paro.

By Road - The road from Bagdogra (the nearest Indian airport) enters Bhutan at Phuentsholing, the border town.
NOTE: Entry / Exit - one way has to be by air.

VISAS & PASSPORTS - Valid passports and an entry visa are essential.

NOTE: Visas cannot be obtained at Bhutanese embassies. You will have to apply for visa through your tour operator in Bhutan. Visa is issued a month prior to your arrival and the visa number is advised to you. Actual visa is stamped on arrival at the Paro Airport.

CUSTOMS - Export of antiques, plants or animal products are strictly prohibited. Cameras, video cameras, computers and personal electronic equipment must be declared on arrival and will be checked upon departure.

CLIMATE - Southern Bhutan has a tropical climate with hot humid monsoons. Spring in the higher valleys (mid-March to May) has warm days (20 °C) and cool nights. June marks the beginning of summer when day temperatures warm up to 27 - 29 °C. By July, the rainy season starts and continue till mid-September. In December temperatures fall, but the days are warm and the clear, azure winter skies serve a striking background to the snow-capped peaks. On a sunny day, temperatures reach about 16-18 ° C. The nights, however, are cold with temperatures falling below freezing.

CLOTHING - Cottons and light woollens in Summer (June-Sep). Heavy woollens and jackets the rest of the year. Rain gear for the monsoons and comfortable shoes.

ELECTRICITY - 230 - 240 volts, 50 cycles A.C. The current is variable.

CURRENCY - The national currency is the Ngultrum (Nu). 100 Chetrum = 1 Nu. Exchange rate is approximately US$ 1 = Nu. 45. Indian Rupees circulate at par.

CREDIT CARDS - American Express and VISA credit cards are accepted in a few shops. Travellers cheques are also accepted.

COMMUNICATION FACILITIES - Reliable telephone and fax services are available in all towns in Bhutan. International connections are excellent.

LANGUAGE - Dzongkha, the language of the western region, is the national language. English is the medium of instruction and is spoken by all government officials and businessmen.

RELIGION - Bhutan is the only country in the world to retain the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism (Drukpa Kagyu) as its official religion. Throughout Bhutan, stupas and chortens (temples) line the roadside commemorating places where Guru Rinpoché or another high Lama (priest) may have stopped to meditate. Prayer flags dot the hills, fluttering in the wind. The Bhutanese believe these help to maintain constant communication with the heavens.

VACCINATION & MEDICAL INFORMATION - Before visiting Bhutan, you may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination. For more information consult your doctor.

INSURANCE - To protect against unforeseen accidents and mishaps, we advise you to have Travel insurance policy from your country. It should adequately cover helicopter evacuation and medical assistance. No such policies available in Bhutan.

SHOPPING - Traditional handicrafts, textiles, jewellery, baskets, masks. Paintings and woodcarving make good buys.