It is strongly recommended, that you have cancellation, medical and personal accident insurance covering repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue services. You should be aware that some policies restrict coverage for Bhutan and activities such as trekking and mountain biking. Please ensure that your policy provides a sufficient level of protection and covers you for your entire trip to Bhutan and activities involved.
HEALTH CONSIDERATION, VACCINATIONS, HEALTH AND FITNESS:
There are no statutory requirements unless you are arriving from an area designated as infected by cholera or yellow fever. We recommend vaccinations against typhoid, tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Malaria is endemic in the south of Bhutan only (if you are visiting Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse and Gelephu) Please consult your doctor or vaccination centre for up to date information and if you are on any prescribed medication that you bring a sufficient supply with you.
If you are touring (not trekking!) in Bhutan, it is not usual to have any serious altitude sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness/AMS). You may still want to consult with your physician before planning your travel. On tours, your road journeys may take you over 3000m. (9000ft) but you descend into the valley almost immediately so it does not cause the altitude sickness. AMS is caused by going too high too fast and in some rare cases can be fatal if the warning signals are ignored. It is important to take care, allowing your body time to adjust to the smaller quantities of oxygen. Some people acclimatize quickly; others take longer. Very few people are incapable of acclimatization, given sufficient time. All our itineraries are designed with easy days at the start and some become more challenging towards the end, after acclimatization has occurred.
Try to drink lots of liquid, relax and listen to your body. If you are concerned about the effects of altitude, please speak with your guide.
IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOM REQUIREMENTS:
All visitors (with an exception of Indian & Bangladeshi National) must apply for Visa prior to arrival. Visas are not granted abroad by embassies or foreign missions. It is processed by Home Ministry in Thimphu.
Visas are not available upon arrival therefore every visitor has to arrange their trip with government recognized tour operators like Yeedzin Tours and Treks. Visas are processed by us ahead of time and the copy of visa approval letter will be sent to you via an e-mail.
Passport must be valid 6 months beyond intended stay.
Note: Passenger without a copy of the visa approval letter will not be permitted to check-in or board their flight to Bhutan. Similarly guest entering Bhutan by road will not be permitted to enter Bhutan through the immigration check post without the letter.
Visa is stamped upon arrival when you present your visa approval letter to the immigration
SHOPPING IN BHUTAN:
The choice is quite limited but includes textiles, wooden handicrafts, prayer flags, prayer wheels and beads and very colourful stamps. Bhutan creates some of the most elaborate and beautiful stamps in the world: three dimensional stamps, stamps the size of postcards. They’re available in Thimphu. Bhutan’s hand woven, naturally dyed textiles (wool, heavy cotton, and a local silk) are renowned among collectors.
A Budget about $20-40 per day for additional expenses can be set for alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, gratuities, few souvenirs, and laundry. Additional money will depend on what you wish to purchase. Apart from extra therapies and activities, drinks, souvenirs, tips, essential items and the items for sale in the shop there is little available to spend your money on.
For the most part, unless you have chosen other alternatives, you will be staying in moderate to the best available accommodations. You should expect very basic facilities as they can’t be compared to any western standards. Hotels in Bhutan are small with 5 -20 rooms and even the largest ones have 25-30 rooms. Generally, no rooms are similar to each other. Please do not feel disparity in room allocation. Remember, when travelling outside of major cities, “best available” may be very primitive. Showers may or may not work only during certain times during the day. Please be prepared to adjust your normal routine with the available services based on the reality of the area.
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT
Yeedzin Tours & Treks offers both trekking and non-trekking trips to Bhutan. This section will describe the type of clothing and equipment you need in Bhutan for our touring trips. Don’t bring a lot, and keep it simple! Dress in Bhutan and in the country tends to be very casual. Even at dinner, it is rare to see any fancy clothes. Should you need laundry service, it will be available at the hotel. Generally speaking, they do a very good job.
In addition to your “normal” daily clothes, you will need to bring the following items with you:
Essential: warm jacket, good leather or waterproof fabric boots or shoes with good soles, waterproof jacket, sunglasses; warm hat; sunhat; sunscreen.
Recommended: gloves, tracksuit or thermal underwear (for evenings and in the winter), backpack, torch, insect repellent, lip balm, a sufficient supply of any medication you are taking.
Whether you are on a trekking or touring in the day hikes, the dressing should be layered. Remember that adequate wet weather gear is important, because these items can be washed well in cold water and dry quickly. You need to bring loose, comfortable clothes and walking shoes in your touring trip. Since toilet facilities are not always available, women may prefer wearing skirts rather pants.
During a typical day, when you leave your hotel, (if the day starts out cool), you may choose to wear a shell jacket with a fleece or wool sweater underneath along with a shirt or T-shirt, a pair of long pants, with hat, sun glasses and rain-gear in your daypack. If you are touring with day hikes, you need a good pair of waterproof walking shoes.
As the day warms up, you will begin stripping down and tucking clothes into your daypack. Try to wear long skirts and it they have many advantages: They are always culturally appropriate.
They are cooler than pants. It is easier to “squat” in a skirt. You can easily bathe surreptitiously under a skirt, if necessary. Very short clothes are considered appropriate in public areas in most Asian countries. Therefore we request you to try wearing light-weight, loose fitting travel trousers.
VISITING SITES OF CULTURAL IMPORTANCE:
When you enter the monasteries and temples, do not wear hats. Shoes are always taken off outside before entering the shrine or temple. Socks are allowed. Floors of these temples sometimes tend to be cold, so we recommend wearing warm socks. Smoking, consumption of alcohol or narcotic in and around temples/monasteries or religious monuments is a taboo and so is shouting, yelling or laughing with loud voice in and around religious area. Do not point with your forefingers to a person, religious figures or statues. Instead a stretched palm is used as a reverence or respect to point to someone. When visiting a temples or monasteries, small donations are welcomed. If you wish to give these donations as an offering, convert into small changes of Nu. 5 and Nu.10
WALKING AND HIKING:
Even on a cultural tour of Bhutan, there is bound to involve some sort of walking. When visiting sights, the vehicles are parked in the parking lot and you walk to get the sight. Sometimes they are steep uphill or down and may involve climbing steep stairs. Although all these walks can be avoided, being fit before you leave home will enable you to enjoy these days to the fullest. For those on hiking trips, fitness is even more critical. We ask that you start or continue a program of regular aerobic exercise prior to your trip. Please note that there are almost no wheel chair access sights in the country.
TOUR GUIDES AND CREW:
Yeedzin Tours uses the best available Bhutanese Guides and they are licensed by Department of Tourism. They are educated in English medium schools and are at least High School if not college graduates. They can speak English well but please be informed that English is their second language. Most have fair knowledge of culture and history that they learn in course of school or as a part of their Guiding course. The best and most experienced guides often have travelled with the tourists for very long and are not as passionate and enthusiastic as the new ones who are just learning the trade. During the peak tourist seasons, the experienced Guides are often assigned for larger groups. Also note that, Bhutanese by nature are very laid back and take opportunities as they come and very rarely take the “bull by the horns”. Do not expect a person to show up at exact time. In Bhutan, you simply have to hang loose, be open minded, and allow the culture and experience to enhance your life.
Tipping isn’t de rigueur – staff will act embarrassed, but they will appreciate the gesture. You will probably be accompanied by the same guide and driver throughout your trip and you should tip them: the equivalent of about US$6-10 a day for the guide and slightly less for the driver is standard. If you are in group, the total amount put together could equal to about $ 8- 15 a day for the Guide and half for driver depending on the group size. If you are on a trek, similar tip could be followed for the trekking crew.