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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Bhutan Travel Requirements

Local Transport
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 Thimphu.
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.


Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM

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