The country has a fairly good internal road network, measuring
about 3,200 km. The main routes consist of an east-west highway
and four north-south highways. The road network connects all
dzongkhags and 16 dungkhags. Major towns and villagers are
also connected by motor roads. However, some areas can only
be reached by mule tracks, foot trails, cantilever and suspension
bridges. Although horses are the main beast of burden, yaks
and oxen are used for transportation in some parts of Bhutan.
The northern regions of the High Himalayas have no roads.
The road from Bagdogra (West Bengal) enters Bhutan at the
border town of Phuentsholing, which is 179km (111 miles) from
Bus services which were formerly government-owned are now
privately run, though yaks, ponies and mules are the chief
forms of transportation. The main routes are from Phuntsholing
to Thimphu, Thimphu to Bumthang, Bumthang to Tashigang, Tashigang
to Samdrup Jongkar and from Tongsa to Gaylegphug. As for railway
transportation, the nearest railhead is Siliguri (India).
Currency used is 1 Ngultrum (NU), broken into 100 chetrum
(Ch). The Ngultrum is pegged to the Indian Rupee (which is
also accepted as legal tender). Notes are in denominations
of NU100, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of
NU1, and 100, 50, 25, 10 and 5 chetrum. Leading foreign currencies
are accepted but travelers cheques are preferred as the exchange
rates are better. These can be exchanged in any Bank of Bhutan
branches or at all BTCL hotels. Travelers cheques in US Dollars
are advised. Major hotels in Thimphu, Phuntsholing, and the
Olathang hotel in Paro, provides exchange foreign currency
facility. US Dollars are also widely accepted throughout the
kingdom. American Express and Diners Club have very limited
acceptability. Check with your credit card company for details
of merchant acceptability and other services that may be available.
The Bhutanese authorities strictly monitor the export of any
religious antiquities or antiques of any kind from the Kingdom.
Personal videos, cameras, personal computers, portable telephones
or any other electronic device should be registered with the
customs authorities on arrival at Paro and will be checked
by the same on departure.
When to go
The best months are during April-May and October, when the
days are sunny, clear and fairly warm. The springtime offers
the additional advantage of the rhododendrons in bloom. November-March
can also be beautiful but cold, especially at nights. Regardless
of when you go, take warm clothing: nights and high altitudes
are always cold in Bhutan.
Small gifts, such as pictures or objects from your home country,
are appreciated. For guides, drivers, cooks, and porters on
tours and treks, cash is appropriate, as are clothing or items
you wish to give.
Bhutanese currency is the Ngultrum (Nu). US Dollars and dollar
traveler's cheques can be exchanged at banks hours are from
10.00a.m to 1.00p.m (Mon-Fri). Ngultrum or rupees will be
what you will need for your purchases while in the kingdom.
All visitors to Bhutan must have a visa approved prior to
arriving in the kingdom. A two-week visa costs US$20. Visitors
can apply for an extension of all tourist visas should a visitor
wish to remain in the kingdom for longer than two weeks. Visitors
are reminded to bring 2 original passport-size photographs
with them to Bhutan as the immigration authority at Piro Airport
will require them.
What to bring
Bhutan's changeable climate means you have to bring an assortment
of clothes. A layered wardrobe probably is the best. Good
walking shoes or hiking boots are essential even if you are
not hiking. Because of the altitude, a hat or cap and a good
pair of sunglasses are important. Warm clothes are recommended
for the evening.