Traveling around the world is currently not possible because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Because of that, many passionate travelers started to make plans for the next year. We all hope that the situation around the crisis is going to end soon.
We are quite sure that the majority of people have a list of destinations they want to visit. In most cases, the list contains the most popular places like Paris, Las Vegas, etc. However, there are many more places where you can go and enjoy to the fullest and reaching those destinations can be even cheaper. Traveling can be expensive and it is one of the reasons why people do not travel more often. That is the reason why we want to talk about the Kingdom of Bhutan in this article.
Believe it or not, Bhutan has less than 800 thousand citizens. Yet, there are many amazing places you should visit in that country. We would like to share with you about things you should know before traveling to this interesting country. The guidelines we prepared for you will make things clearer for you.
But, before we start, there is one important thing you should know. As we said, many tourists started to plan their traveling for 2023. If you are one of them, then you should know about the travel bubbles tourism plan in Bhutan. Bhutan is planning to provide two different options for tourists who would like to visit the country. In case you want to find out more about it, we recommend you check here.
1. You Can’t Travel Without A Tour Guide
We are quite sure that many of you would want to organize your trip independently. You would want to book a hotel and get an airplane ticket online by yourself. However, traveling to Bhutan would require you to book your trip through a licensed tour operator such as Druk Asia. Even if you would like to travel solo or with a group of people, you would still need to book your trip through an agency. Your tour agency will arrange for a comfortable transport and tour guide to accompany you throughout your trip in Bhutan. While such restrictions may seem uncommon in most countries, the reason Bhutan implemented this tourism policy was to avoid mass tourism and to protect its pristine environment.
2. You Can’t Enter without VISA
All foreigners are required to apply for a VISA to enter Bhutan. The process of applying for a VISA is not as complex as you may think. More precisely, you can get it easily while staying home. All you need to do is to confirm your booking with your selected tour agency and they will apply for your visa on behalf. You primarily need to take a picture of your passport and send it to the tour company. After the approval of your VISA, the tour company will send the visa e-clearance to your email, you are required to produce this at the check-in counter during immigration clearance when you land in Bhutan. The actual VISA will be stamped on your passport after you have cleared all the immigration procedures.
If you would like to explore districts outside of Thimphu, Paro, and Punakha, your tour operator will also apply for additional route permits on your behalf. There will be different designated checkpoints between each region and you are also required to produce your passport for your tour guide to assist you with the route clearance.
3. One International Airport
Let’s imagine that you live somewhere in the United States. The only option you have to come to Bhutan is by plain. Indeed, you will have the chance to do something like that. However, you should know that there is only one international airport in the country. It is located in the city of Paro that is only one hour away from the Thimphu.
Despite that, you won’t find a direct line to reach the country. You will manage to do that only from countries like Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Thailand. However, people that want to enter the country overland should now one thing. They can do that only from India because entering overland from China isn’t possible.
In the end, we need to say one important thing about Paro Airport. It is in your best interest to prepare yourself for landing there. It will probably be the most entertaining moment you have had in life so far. The airport is between a couple of mountains. Because of that, the pilots need to use different tricks to land safely. The serious maneuvering is something you will surely remember forever.
4. Spicy Food
Whichever destination you choose to visit, you will want to know more about the local food. Describe Bhutanese food is not tough at all. People that live there consume chili for every meal they have during the day. Locals will often tell you that meal without a chill pepper is unworthy. You will agree with that statement after checking some of their foods.
Finding a non-spicy food is not going to be tough. They understand that many tourists simply can’t stand to eat spicy good. However, when you go to a restaurant, it is crucial to mention that you want food without any spices. If you don’t say that, you will have to deal with spicy dishes.
On the other hand, if you like spicy food, there is something you should know. The national dish you should try out is well-known under the name ema datse. It is a combination of spicy curry of chilies and farmer’s cheese. Despite that, the locals like to add nutty red rice to it.
5. Be Careful When Hiking
For the avid hikers, we know that you would want to enjoy the mountains in Bhutan. You can enjoy trekking in the mountains that are up to 6000 meters in elevation. However, you are forbidden to trek any mountain higher than that as mountaineering is banned in Bhutan. One of the reasons why that activity is forbidden is safety. However, the second reason has a larger impact on the environment and people. Locals believe that snow peaks are the domain of goddesses and gods. Because of that, there is a local myth that if the mountains are being disturbed, there will be storms, droughts, and floods. Bhutan is a highly spiritual country with a lot of respect for its environment, so it is always better to be safe than sorry.