The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan represents the pristine unspoiled beauty at its best. Known for being the happiest country in the world with Buddhism being the dominant religion this place is every nature lover and hill dreamers must-visit destination. A place that welcomes everyone from family to groups of friends and solo explorers it is a magical Pandora box filled with interesting activities and things to do in every step of the way.
Planning a holiday in Bhutan is not an easy task. Being a place which has a distinct set of rules, regulations, and traditions you need to have an open mind and a welcoming attitude towards new experiences this place has to offer. With vibrant fairs and colorful festivals, it is truly a unique holiday destination that requires some research beforehand.
Here are some important things that you must know before booking that ticket to Bhutan:
Plan Your Dates Around Festival Time
This tip is not only relevant for Bhutan but in fact anywhere in the world. This place springs to life and color during the time of festivals and you will also get some first-hand experience into the life and culture of Bhutan that you may have otherwise missed. Plan your holiday during the time of Thimphu Tshechu Festival, Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival, or the Paro Tshechu Festival. Although it is a place that can be visited and will leave an equally impressive remark in your soul, going there during the time of some festival will make your holiday all the more memorable.
Choose Home Stays
Travelling anywhere will be useless if you don’t readily take in the enigmatic and vibrant culture of that place. Bhutan is one such place wherein to have a wholesome experience you will need to completely immerse yourself into the culture and traditions of the Bhutanese people. This can be done only if you choose to stay at a homestay. Connect with people, learn about their heritage, observe their traditions and culture, after all, isn’t that what traveling is all about?
The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum or Nu which is at par with the Indian rupees and is the most widely accepted currency in the country. This means that 1 Ngultrum is equal to 1 Indian rupee. Most hotels, restaurants, and handcrafts stores accept the payment through credit cards as well but just to be on the safer side carry notes with you since many places don’t offer that facility.
Learn A Few Bhutanese Phrases
The official language of Bhutan is Dzongkha. Before going there you can learn a few of the pleasantries in their local language. This will be a way of bonding with the people of Bhutan and also making them feel like you are there in good faith and really want to know more about their gorgeous dynamic culture. While going there as a tourist you must make sure that you don’t offend the locals in any way and the easiest way of doing that is by learning a couple of words, phrases, or sentences beforehand.
Being situated on the hills you can expect spotty or interrupted internet connection. There are 2 primary mobile network providers in Bhutan which are: B mobile SIM and Tashi Cell. You can go ahead and get yourself a SIM card here on the day of your arrival. For this, you will be required to carry a copy of your ID and a couple of passport photographs. 2G and 3G internet connection is widely available throughout the country and the WIFI facility is also available in most of the major and small hotels.
Wear Appropriate Clothes In A Dzong
Just like temples or any other holy shrines a Dzong holds immense relevance for the believers of Buddhism in Bhutan. The Dzong is an ancient fortress consisting of towers, courtyards, temples, offices among others. You have to follow the given rules – you cannot wear just jeans, if you are then you will have to tie a jacket around your waist, no hats, no shorts and skirts or T-shirts can be worn while visiting. No, you don’t have to wear the traditional clothing of Bhutan but always remember to cover your arms and legs in long-sleeved clothing.
Tips For Travelling To Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Sitting on the edge of a jagged cliff is one of the most iconic Buddhist Site dating back to 1692 on an elevation of around 10,000 feet above sea level. To reach there you will have to first cover a road journey of around 20 minutes starting from Paro. You will be dropped off at the beginning point of the trek up to the monastery which will take another 5 hours to cover a distance of 6.5 kms. This should not be a one-day trip you can acclimatize for a day at Paro. Wear good quality of extra sturdy hiking shoes and keep yourself hydrated throughout the journey.
Load Up On Winter Wear
Being situated on the hills and on a higher altitude, you should remember to properly pack all the good quality and thermal innerwear and winter wear. Apart from the hills, the weather conditions here are quite unpredictable and it will require you to be well prepared beforehand. Apart from winter clothing, you will also have to carry winter accessories like mufflers, earmuffs, gloves, beanie, and more. Fleece jackets have the best warming effect on the hills.
Only Guided Tours Are Allowed
It doesn’t matter if you are going solo or with a group of people, traveling in Bhutan requires you to be accompanied with a registered guide. It won’t matter if you despise the idea of a guided tour this is the protocol for traveling in Bhutan. It’s not all bad, having a guide around would help you to understand the culture and traditions better. You will also be able to connect with the locals here through the guide who will tell you stories and folklores along with taking you to different places to explore in Bhutan.