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Need to know – Bhutan

A traditional masked dance performance.
Image courtesy: Tourism Council of Bhutan

In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Bhutan travel guide, we look at some of the important information you will need while planning a trip to the country.

Languages: Dzongkha, Hindi, Nepali, Bengali, English
Time: 30 mins ahead of IST.
Currency: Ngultrum (Nu). The Indian rupee (up to Rs100 notes) is legal tender in Bhutan. Nu 1 = Re 1. Some top-end hotels accept US$.
Mobile Phones: As long as your phone is unlocked you can buy a local SIM card for both domestic and international use and top it up with prepaid cards.
Internet Access: Wi-fi is available in select hotels and restaurants. Internet cafes are located in shopping areas of towns.
Tourist Information: Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB)  (ph 02 323251;; Chhogyel Lam, Thimphu)

When To Go

  • High Season (March–April, September–November): The weather is best in spring and autumn. Book flights and accommodation well in advance. Himalayan views are best in October, while rhododendron blooms peak in March and April.
  • Mid Season (May, December–February): The main benefit of travelling outside high season will be fewer tourists. The weather is still good, though it can be severely cold in December and January.
  • Low Season (June–August): Avoid the monsoons especially if you want to go trekking.

What To Pack

  • Light and loose wash-and-wear clothes.
  • Waterproof holder for passport and money.
  • A compact umbrella and/or good raincoat.
  • Fleece jacket, windbreaker, woollens.
  • Hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses.
  • Bring your own tobacco (p49).
  • A flashlight for unexpected power cuts and for interiors of dark temples/monasteries.
  • Slip-on shoes – useful for visiting chapels and monasteries.
  • Motion-sickness medication for the long and winding roads.
  • Camera and batteries

Getting Around

• Depending on how far you want to venture from the heart of town, the best way to move around Thimphu and its touristy spots is either by foot or on board a taxi hired for the day for about Nu 1000. Those booked with a tour operator would have a dedicated vehicle with driver and guide to themselves.

Taxi: Those travelling without the services of a tour operator could hire taxis for their trips around Bhutan on a long-term basis.