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FAQ

Just to pre-empt some of the common questions we get asked on a regular basis, we have listed them below with detailed answers.

Why should I book through a Bhutanese travel agent like Touch Bhutan Travel rather than a travel agent in my own country?

The answer is simple – it’s much cheaper!

Opting to book your trip directly through us will ensure a considerable cost saving because, unlike overseas travel agents who work on commissions, our rates are devoid of any unnecessary fees. By choosing to book your trip through a local tour operator like us, you eliminate the need for an intermediary when securing your tourist visa because only local tour operators can facilitate the visa process for you. So it’s both cheaper and easier. 

Can I tailor-make my trip with discussions with you?

Absolutely! We are a boutique travel agency. This is our preferred method of working which ensures that every one of our clients has a wonderfully personalised experience. We take considerable time to work out your needs and what sort of experience you are after.

How does Touch Bhutan Travel compare cost wise to other agents?

While we can’t comment on the operations of other agencies, what we can say is that our clients have not only been happy with the level of service and unique experiences we have delivered but the cost of the trip too!

How much does it cost per day to come to Bhutan (excluding the airfare)?

Between 1st September 2023 and 31st August 2027 the tourism levy to enter Bhutan has been slashed by 50%!

It's now cheaper than ever to visit BHUTAN

 

The Royal Government of Bhutan is committed to high value, low impact tourism. To support this initiative, a per person/per night tourism levy is imposed which is known as the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF).

 

Funds from the SDF are directed to provide free health care and education for all Bhutanese citizens. It also helps to fund conservation projects, cultural preservation projects, infrastructure upgrades and youth development programmes. 

To encourage tourism, the new SDF rates are as follows:

  • The SDF for people above 12 years will now be $USD 100 per person per night. 

  • Children aged between 6 and 12 years, the new SDF will be $USD 50 per child per night.  

  • Children who have not yet turned 6 years old are eligible to visit Bhutan without paying any SDF.

On top of the SDF there will be expenses for accommodation, transportation, guide fees, and all meals as per the government-approved rates.

Touch Bhutan Travel, after detailed discussions with you to tailor make your trip, will calculate an all inclusive package. We will arrange your visa and we can even book your airfares into and out of Bhutan, at no additional charge. The majority of our clients prefer us to handle everything. 

 

Touch Bhutan Travel remains a very competitive travel agency and we will strive to give you the best rate possible.

What’s included in the package and what’s not included?

The cost is an all-inclusive daily package, which means you could literally come to Bhutan without any money! 

What’s included?

Government SDF of $USD 100 / person / night stay in Bhutan (or less for children under 12)

 

All Government taxes.

 

Bhutan visa fee.

 

Entry fees to all sites.

 

Accommodation in Department of Tourism approved 3-star hotels or village home-stays. Hotels will be finalised after discussions with the CEO – Mr Tshering Jamtsho for your approval.

 

Three meals per day during the duration of your tour (B, L, D).

 

Licensed English-speaking guide.

 

Transportation in a well maintained, comfortable vehicle. For 1-2 pax an SUV such as a Prado, for 3-6 pax a high roof minibus will be used and for 7 -15 pax a coaster bus will be used.

 

Experienced driver.

 

Tea and snacks.

 

Bottled water throughout the day.

What’s not included?

Airfares to and from Bhutan, unless of course you would like us to arrange booking at no additional cost.

 

All personal expenses such as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, additional food, laundry, telephone calls.

 

Any personal shopping and anything of a personal nature.

 

Medical expenses

 

Tips for the driver and guide.

If I go on a trek, what’s included and what’s not included? What do I need to pack?

Please see the trekking section for everything you need to know.

How do I book my flights to Bhutan?

Touch Bhutan Travel can handle the booking of your airline tickets with either Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines, depending on the flight timings and your schedule. Rest assured, there are no commission fees associated with this service. Alternatively, you have the option to purchase your tickets directly from their official websites at www.drukair.com.bt and www.bhutanairlines.bt, though for ease of planning your trip, we would prefer to arrange your flights for you at no additional cost. Please do let us know at the time of booking if you would like us to arrange your flights into and out of Bhutan. 

 

Flights arrive from various cities in India as well as from Bangkok, Singapore and Nepal. If you would like further information, please check the airlines' websites.

 

Whichever method you decide to book through, your airline tickets will be sent to you via email. Please make sure you carry a printed copy of your airline ticket as well as printouts of all other necessary documents such as your passport and visa.

 

Please note: Only after your flights to and from Bhutan are booked should you book your connecting flight from your country.

What is the procedure for booking a trip through Touch Bhutan Travel?

These are the steps for booking your trip:

 

  1. Decide on the type of tour you are after, duration and time of year you wish to visit.

  2. Contact us via the contact form or via our email hello@touchbhutantravel.com to discuss your trip.

  3. Once your itinerary is finalised, then full payment must be sent to us along with a copy of your passport via email no later than 4 weeks prior to your trip – though we encourage our clients to pay much earlier (12 weeks ahead) to avoid disappointment, as flights and good hotels book up quickly.

 

Note: The Department of Tourism requires full payment to issue your visa. Visa processing will take between 1- 4 weeks. Don’t worry, your payment is 100% secure as it goes directly to the Department of Tourism which is the government regulatory body for tourism.

Should I take out travel insurance?

It is always advisable to take out travel insurance to cover unexpected events.

What is your cancellation policy?

If notification of your tour cancellation is received more than 30 days prior to your travel date, 2.5 % of your Bhutan tour cost shall be deducted as cancellation charges.

  • if notification of your tour cancellation is received less than 30 days but more than 15 days prior to your travel date, 5% of your Bhutan tour cost shall be deducted as cancellation charges.

  • If notification of your tour cancellation is received less than 15 days prior to your travel date, 10% of your Bhutan trip cost shall be deducted as cancellation charges.

  • If you cancel your tour less than 4 days prior to your travel date ,15% of your Bhutan trip cost shall be deducted as cancellation charges.

  • If you cancel your trip after your arrival in Bhutan, 20% of the cost of your remaining days in Bhutan shall be deducted as cancellation charges.

  • If you postpone or prepone your tour there shall be no charges for changing your travel date.

 

Drukair & Bhutan Airlines fare refund policy:

  • 90% refund permitted for the ticket cancelled more than 30 days from the first date of travel.

  • 75% refund permitted for the ticket cancelled from 10-29
    days from the first date of travel.

  • 50% refund permitted for the tickets cancelled from 04-09
    days from the first date of travel.

  • Less than 03 days refund is not permitted

Note: A rescheduled ticket is not permitted for a refund.

For every date changed a rescheduling fee is applicable

What’s the food like?

Bhutanese cuisine is a delightful fusion of bold flavours and spices. Rice is a staple in Bhutan, often accompanied by spicy dishes that feature chilis and cheese as prominent ingredients. Savoury momos (dumplings) are often served which can be either meat or vegetarian. The cuisine also incorporates red rice, buckwheat noodles, and hearty soups.

 

Most of the vegetables grown in Bhutan are organic and we make sure that all our meals are cooked with seasonal organic vegetables and accompanied with meat - mainly chicken, beef, and pork. Those with special dietary requirements will be duly catered for while guests who are not fond of spicy food such as chillis, we make sure that there are plenty of options to choose from.

What time of year is the best time to come? What are the temperatures like?

Of course, every season has its beauty, but we would recommend avoiding the monsoon months of June and July due to chances of heavy rainfall and cloudy skies and the winter months of December, January, and February due to the cold.

 

The views of the Himalayas are most spectacular in Autumn (September, October, November) and Spring (March, April, May).

Below are the average temperatures (in celsius) in the main tourist destinations:

table of local temperatures

What about altitude sickness? Do I have to take extra precautions?

Bhutan boasts altitudes higher than those of many other countries. However, the popular regions such as Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, and Bumthang do not pose any risk of altitude sickness provided the individual is relatively healthy without any serious heart or lung conditions.

 

For our trekking tours, most of them venture to altitudes of 4,000 meters, with some reaching up to 5,000 meters. For those reaching the higher altitudes it is advisable to allocate two days for acclimatization before commencing the trek. This provision will be factored into the trekking itinerary.

 

Some of our clients choose to bring the medication Diamox with them as a precautionary measure, though oxygen cans are available in pharmacies in Thimphu. Our experienced trekking guides will be around this issue so there is no need for hesitation.

 

Below are the altitudes of the main townships in Bhutan:

table of altitudes across bhutan

What type of accommodation is available?

In the main tourist areas, very good 3-star accommodation is available and in more remote areas visitors will stay in Tourist Council of Bhutan approved farm stays. Touch Bhutan Travel always chooses the most centrally located and best standard accommodation for our guests. All the accommodation during your stay in Bhutan is incorporated in the all-inclusive daily tariff. 

 

There is also the option of paying extra for luxury accommodation. The luxury accommodation can be found under the Tours & Packages header > Special Interest Tours > Luxury Getaways.

I love your national dress. Is it possible to hire or even buy one?

Absolutely! When you arrive in Paro, there are shops where you can rent the national dress for a photo opportunity. Additionally, there are several stores selling ready-made kiras for women and ghos for men. If you express your interest to us ahead of time, our guide will gladly assist in making the necessary arrangements for you.

Is there a certain dress code in Bhutan, especially for entering a temple?

Yes. Bhutanese are conservative in nature, so we suggest that you refrain from wearing very short shorts or skirts and singlet tops in public. When entering a monastery make sure you wear long pants (or a long skirt in case of women) and have your shoulders always covered. And no hats.

I heard that Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world. Is this true?

Yes, you are right. The Kingdom of Bhutan is gaining global recognition for its climate change action and policies. It has dedicated just over 70% of its land to forest cover and amended its constitution so that the forested areas will never fall below 60%. Because of this, the country offsets 6 million tons of CO2 each year – more than two times that is produced.

I heard that Bhutan is famous for its stamps. Is this correct?

Yes, Bhutan has a fascinating collection of postage stamps that are loved by collectors worldwide. They feature unique and intricate designs that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and important events. They even come in various forms such as triangles, circles and even 3D designs.

 

One of the most interesting things that you can do in Bhutan is to get your own personalised stamps at the General Post Office in Thimphu for 500 Ngultrum. The package contains 12 stamps with a mix value of 30 Ngultrum, 45 Ngultrum and 50 Ngultrum.

What power socket do you use over there?

Bhutan uses socket types C and D as shown. Converters are available in most hardware shops. Bhutan’s power supply is 240V.

Type C

EUROPE, & ASIA & SOUTH AMERICA

Type D

INDIA

Is tipping part of your culture?

No, though your driver and guide will expect a tip at the end of the tour.

How do I obtain the local currency? Do you take credit cards over there?

Bhutan’s currency is known as the Ngultrum (Ng) and is equivalent to the Indian rupee which is accepted in Bhutan. You can purchase Ngultrum at Paro International airport and at major hotels with traveller’s cheques and all major currencies, though if you ask your guide, he/she will be able to get you a much better rate from the shops in town.

 

It’s a good idea to carry a small amount of Ngultrum with you while travelling in case you want to buy a souvenir or go to a café.

 

Credit cards are not widely used in Bhutan. However, if you have a Visa card or Mastercard you may be able to withdraw ngultrum in some of the ATMs around Thimphu – though we would not recommend you rely on your credit card while in Bhutan. Very few shops and hotels take credit cards, except for 5-star resorts.

Where do I get a sim card from?

You can buy a tourist sim on arrival at Paro International airport. Your guide will be on hand to assist you should you need any help. Alternatively, you can inform us ahead of your arrival and we will purchase one for you.

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