This article guides tourists on when is the best time to visit Bhutan and shares some tips on how to plan their trip that will allow them to travel cheap to Bhutan.
1. Plan your trip during the lean season
The minimum daily tariff levied to tourists visiting Bhutan varies depending on the season of travel. The traveling season is segregated into lean and peak season. Winter months from December through February and summer months from June through August are considered the lean season. Daily tariff of USD 200 per person is levied instead of USD 250 per person which is the peak season tariff. The minimum daily tariff is an all-inclusive package. Terms and conditions apply. Another reason why tourists should plan their trip during the lean season to Bhutan is because hotels and airlines also offer significant discount of up to 50%.
2. Travel with a group
Solo trip to Bhutan can be expensive. The government charges an additional FIT surcharge to the minimum daily tariff. The surcharge is USD 40 per person per night for a solo traveler and USD 30 per person per night for group of 2 people. Group of 3 or more people are exempted from paying the FIT surcharge.
For bigger groups, the Government offers following discounts:
- In a group of 11 – 15 tourists, one person is entitled to a discount of 50% on the minimum daily package tariff.
- For a group of 16 persons and more; one person is entitled to 100% waiver on the minimum daily package tariff.
3. Explore royalty exempted regions
The minimum daily tariff includes a sustainable development fee of USD 65. The revenue generated goes towards infrastructure building, providing free health care services and education in the country. To promote tourism and boost economic activity in the eastern region, tourists will not have to pay the sustainable development fee to explore the eastern region. This allows tourists to pay a lower minimum daily tariff. The eastern region includes Mongar, Tashigang, Lhuntse, Tashi Yangtse, Pema Gatshel and Samdrup Jongkhar districts. The highlights of the eastern region include national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, highlanders leading a nomadic culture, ancient medieval fortresses which are still functional today and many secluded idyllic traditional Bhutanese villages.
4. Avoid premium tour packages
The minimum daily tariff is an all-inclusive package. It includes a minimum of 3 star accommodations, 3 meals a day, local transportation, a service of a professional tour guide and entry fees for all tourist attractions. Premium tour packages will include luxury and ultra-luxury hotels, organized private tours and activities which are all subject to additional charges which will rack up the tour cost significantly.
5. Entry from the Border town
A tourist traveling via Phuntsholing shall be exempted from paying SDF for one night halt either during entry or at the time of exit. However, it must be reflected in their itineraries that they shall be lodged in one of the TCB approved hotels. Tourists can also benefit from the competitive flight ticket prices offered by multiple airlines flying into a nearby Indian city airport. Local airline tickets operating inbound flights to Bhutan are relatively expensive.