Last updated: 19 Sep 2021

Bhutan

About

The Kingdom of Bhutan has adopted a cautious approach to tourism to avoid any negative impact on the country's culture and environment.

One should try to be there during one of Bhutan's numerous Buddhist festivals: a riot of masks, dancing and ritual which generally centre on Dzongs (fortresses) in cobbled courtyards. Monks recount Buddhist history and myths through religious or folk dances.

Visit the National Library in Thimphu, which houses numerous holy books and scriptures; and the National Museum of Bhutan in Paro, located in the Watchtower, where weapons, antiques, mammals and Bhutanese artefacts are all on display.

Do not miss Tongsa Dzong in central Bhutan, the ancestral home of the Royal family which commands a superb view of the valley, then explore the holy sites of Bumthang, the country's cultural and religious heartlands.
Capital:  Thimphu (PBH)
Currency:  Ngultrum (BTN). USD widely accepted. 
Language:  Dzongkha. Many local dialects are also spoken. English is the language of education and is widely spoken. 
Dialling code from SA:  + 975
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +6 (4 hours ahead of South Africa)
Public Holidays 2021: 

Feb 21-23; Dec 17

Side of the Road: Left
Best Time to Go: March – May and September – November 
Best for: Religious Sites, Cultural Events
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Milk is unpasteurised.
Health: Healthcare facilities are of a high standard, but may not be available in rural areas. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage. Western and traditional medicine are practised side by side. 
Customs: Citizens wear traditional dress in government buildings and official functions. As a predominately Buddhist country, dress should always be conservative when visiting religious sites (men should wear long pants, and women should keep their arms and legs covered, no hats / caps should be worn). Public displays of affection should be avoided. Never climb or sit on statues. Do not take photographs inside temples. Pointing is considered rude. Do not insult the royal family. Mountains are considered the abode of the gods and recreational activities on some of the peaks are therefore forbidden. 
Local Offences / Laws: The sale of tobacco is prohibited in Bhutan and smoking is prohibited in public areas. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: Credit cards have limited acceptability and ATM’s do not accept international cards. 
Duty Free: The following goods may be imported into Bhutan by tourists without incurring duty:
• 1L of alcoholic beverages.
• Personal effects.
The sale of tobacco is banned in Bhutan. Tourists can import 200 cigarettes or three 50g tins of tobacco for personal consumption, but these are subject to 100% tax.

The following goods may be imported by Bhutanese residents without incurring duty:
• 2 bottles of alcoholic beverages of up to 2L each.
• 50g of gold.
• 1kg of silver.
• 60ml of perfume.
• 10 items of each type of clothing. The total value of the above items must not exceed US$1,000.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited imports include narcotics, pornography and antiques. Restricted imports include arms and ammunition, drugs and pharmaceutical products, used and second-hand goods and equipment, gold and silver in excess of baggage allowance, live animals and their products, plants and chemicals.
Prohibited Exports: Prohibited exports include narcotics, pornography and antiques. Restricted exports include arms and ammunition, drugs and pharmaceutical products, used and second-hand goods and equipment, gold and silver in excess of baggage allowance, live animals and their products, plants, chemicals and telecommunications equipment.

Travel Alerts

Last updated: 08/09/2021

Bhutan has closed their borders to all foreign passengers.

Entry restrictions

  • Passengers are not permitted to enter Bhutan.
    • This does not apply to nationals of Bhutan.

Form requirements

  • Passengers travelling to Bhutan must submit a completed Health Declaration Form here.

Test requirements

  • Passengers travelling to Bhutan must hold a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test certificate from a certified laboratory obtained within 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Nationals of India, who are migrant workers, may enter Bhutan with a negative rapid antigen test if they do not have access to RT-PCR testing.

Quarantine requirements

  • Passengers must quarantine for 21 days on arrival in Bhutan.

Exit requirements

  • Passengers departing Bhutan must register for approval by completing the online registration form prior to departure.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Visa Requirements

  • Visas are required by SA passport holders prior to arrival in Bhutan. Visas are processed through an online system by a licensed Bhutanese tour operator directly or through a foreign travel agent.
  • The photo-page of the passengers passport is to be sent to the tour operator in Bhutan, as well as the photo and the signature page . The tour operator  will then apply for your visa. The visa will be processed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) once the full payment of our holiday (including the USD40 visa fee) has been wire transferred  and received  in the TCB bank account. Once received, the visa clearance will be processed within 72 hours.
  • At the passengers point of entry, he/she will be required to show your visa clearance letter and the visa will then be stamped into your passport. The actual visa is issued (stamped) in the passport at the entry points, either at Paro Airport or Phuentsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar (land entry or exit).

Additional information available: www.bhutan.travel/page/travel-requirements

SA Representative

Representation accredited from New Delhi, India

Travel Health

Compulsory:  Yellow Fever (Dependant on Country of Origin/Stopover)
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio, Rabies
  Malaria Risk