Have you ever dreamed about traveling to the world’s happiest country? Bhutan is renowned as the happiest country, the last Shangri-la on earth. Who wouldn’t want to travel to Bhutan? I mean the mere fact that there is a tiny country somewhere on the eastern Himalayas enclosed by magnificent mountains and the people are so happy, content with what they have, oh yes, you should definitely travel there.
When you talk to people about traveling to Bhutan, let me guess! The reactions were: OMG! You must be so rich to be able to travel to Bhutan? , are you sure? It is so hard to get there or maybe even like Bhutan only issues a limited number of visas you have to be super lucky to be able to get one. BS! Apparently, only a few people have traveled to Bhutan until now, therefore, a lot of misunderstanding and unconfirmed reports lead to such nonsensical rumors. But, I am here to tell you that all of this is not true, I am here to save your “travel to Bhutan dream”. By the end of the article you will understand that with the right kind of preparation, you too can travel to Bhutan.
Myth #1. Limited number of Visas per year
This myth is as old as that 104-year-old grandma that lives across the street, jokes apart! The Royal Government of Bhutan USED to limit the number of tourist to 5,000 per year till the year of 1999 and it was fairly-so because they believed that unlimited tourists would have a great negative impact on the well-conserved natural environment and also on the well-preserved culture.
But after 1999 the government realized that there are other ways (will get to that in a while) to protect the environment and its culture without having to limit the number of tourist coming in, a smart move indeed and abolished the limitation rule. Presently there is no limitation on the number of tourists allowed to visit Bhutan. However, only two airlines operate in the country so the numbers of tourists are automatically limited to the capacity of the airplanes.
For Druk Air flight schedule, click here
For Tashi Airline flight Schedule, click here
Myth #2. Getting Bhutan Visa is very difficult
With the exception of the Indian, Bangladeshi and Maldivian nationals, all other foreigners must obtain a visa to enter the country. Remember I talked about better ways to preserve and conserve our culture and environment? This is it; In line with Bhutan’s tourism policy of “High value, Low Impact”, a foreigner must book their trip through a local travel agent in Bhutan. Once the trip is confirmed, your travel agent will apply for your travel visa on your behalf. You don’t even have to fill a single form yourself, see? Not hard at all, in fact, this is as easy as eating a cake.
More on Bhutan Visa
Myth #3. Bhutan is super expensive
Okay, let’s state the obvious first, the daily tariff. It is mandatory for all tourists to pay a daily tariff of USD 250 per person per night during peak season (Mar, Apr, May, Sep, Oct, and Nov) and USD 200 during the lean season. What most interested tourists don’t realize is that the daily tariff is an all-inclusive package. It includes:
Comfortable accommodation at a 3 star rated hotel
3 large meals per day
Cold beverage other than alcohol
A professional English speaking tour guide
Visas for Bhutan
All land transportation
Entry fees to all attractions
Government SDF tax which USD 65
So there you have it, the total breakdown of your USD 250 per person per night. About 90% of the tourist to Bhutan claim of not using a single penny during their entire stay and had enjoyed with the best experiences and yes definitely not worrying about absolutely anything. What about the other 10% you ask, well that is because the daily tariff of USD 250 does not include shopping expenses and of course tips for your guide, which is if you wish to repay them for going out of their way to make your stay a more memorable one. I am sure they will appreciate the gesture!
Myth #4. It is not recommended to travel during the lean season
Let me put it this way, Bhutan is an all year tourist destination. Why? It is because festivals and adventures are all the same throughout the year. Spring and Autumn season are considered peak season. The weather is suitable for trekking and also the most popular festivals like Paro Tshechu and Thimphu Tshechu are celebrated in these seasons attracting a lot of tourists every year. However, the non-peak season that is during summer and winter will also have the same kind of festivals all around the country and traveling during the non-peak season has its own perks like having the opportunity to see beautiful golden landscapes with clear blue sky and snowfalls during winter and verdant fresh greenery landscape during summer. During winter you can also have the opportunity to see the endangered bird, the black-necked cranes which migrate to Bhutan from Tibet. These birds fly back to Tibet early spring. I saved the best one for last that is you will pay USD 50 less, paying only USD 200 per person per night and not having to put up with a lot of crowd at the tourist attraction sites and you will also enjoy low airfares during non-peak seasons. Isn’t that just wonderful? Saving money and getting the same experience!
More on the Best time to visit Bhutan
Myth #5. You cannot go solo in Bhutan
Of course, you can go solo all you want in Bhutan, but you cannot wander around on your own. Confused? It means that your solo trip is equal to you plus your guide and your driver. They are only there to help you get around and most importantly because you cannot travel around by yourself according to the tourism regulation of Bhutan. Your guide and your driver will not invade your personal space but will only GUIDE you through your tour itinerary and will provide information on the cultural sites and other stuffs that you may have your doubts about and moreover your association with your guide will probably last till 4 or 5 in the evening after which you will be on your own where you can choose to just relax in your room or stroll around the city for walks or drinks by yourself.
So that is it! Does not seem so complicated anymore, does it? Now there is only one thing left to do; Get in touch with a local travel agent, book your trip, grab that passport, pack your bags and travel to the happiest country on earth.