Learn More: Visiting Visa
In order to streamline and facilitate smooth visitation by tourists from Bangladesh, India and Maldives, the Department of Immigration, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, and the Tourism Council of Bhutan are pleased to announce that the nation's Online Permit System launched on January 26th, 2017. The Online Regional Permit system allows citizens to obtain entry-exit tourist visas on arrival to and from Bhutan.
The first step to apply for a Tourist Online Regional Permit is to fill out an easy online application. Once you have electronically submitted your application, you will receive confirmation by email. Please take care to answer all questions on the application accurately and completely.
Required Documents to Apply
- A valid passport
- A clear photo with white background
- Travel itinerary with dates
- Hotel reservations or proof of accommodation
- The name of your travel guide
- A credit/debit card or a PayPal account
- Foreigners from Bangladesh, India and the Maldives can apply.
- Your travel document has to be valid passport for a minimum of 6 months starting from the date of travel.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If you are planning to travel to Bhutan, prepare to be amazed. While this is a gorgeous, albeit small country in Asia, its government is against mass tourism. Only a specific number of tourists are allowed to enter Bhutan at any given time. So, if you catch a spot, you will not find crowded attractions. You will not come across long lines and tourists everywhere. Instead, you will experience Bhutan just as it is: a quiet place with a lot of character. And that is precisely what the government of Bhutan wants. Mass tourism will strip a country of its character, turning it into just another crowded place where people do not get to experience everything that a country has to offer.
In fact, Bhutan has gained more and more attention from tourists. One of the reasons is that it has pledged to become a fully organic country. At the moment, 90% of the country’s energy comes from renewable sources, and we want to encourage that, which is why we highly recommend that you make Bhutan one of your next vacation destinations.
As far as the entry requirements are concerned, Bhutan has a very strict visa policy. The citizens of India do not need a visa to enter Bhutan, and they only need a valid ID card or any other document that reveals their identity. The citizens of Bangladesh and the Maldives do not need a visa either, but they are required to have a passport that remains valid for at least another 6 months from the date of entry.
All the other nationalities in the world must obtain a visa to enter Bhutan. Keep in mind that you can book a vacation only if you use a licensed Bhutanese tour operator or an international partner. They will pre-arrange your visa and plan your holiday. A daily fee must be paid as well. You have to pay for every day you stay in Bhutan; the cost is $250 per day in the high season, and $200 in the low season. It is pretty costly to visit Bhutan, but once you get there, you will see that it is worth it. They call Bhutan the last Shangri-La.
From a cultural and environmental standpoint, Bhutan is a unique country. While there, you will have plenty of things to see and do. But most importantly, you should take one of the numerous available cultural tours. Some of the most popular destinations are Thimphu, Punakha, Paro, Wandue, and Jakar. Some new destinations are now open to the public, such as the Zhemgag region. It is a small paradise for bird enthusiasts. Eastern Bhutan has also become available for the public, and if you are an explorer, surely you will want to see what that part of the country has to offer. Remember that this area of the country is ‘virgin,’ and you will have an exciting and unique experience.
Trekking is also very popular in Bhutan. The most commonly taken path is the Druk path. It starts from Paro. The Jomolhari and Laya Gasa paths may be enjoyable as well for you, as well as the Snowman Trek. However, the latter is a challenging hike. It can take up to 30 days to complete the trek, but the sights are worth it. The best time to do it is from mid-June to mid-October.
If you are in Bhutan for the monasteries, you cannot miss the Taktsang Monastery. It is also called the Tiger’s Nest. You can find it in Paro, and it is one of the most significant Buddhist sites in the whole world. In fact, this monastery is one of the most visited landmarks in Bhutan. The temple is built on a cliff that stands 1200 meters high. It may be a little bit difficult to get there, so if you have poor physical fitness, we recommend that you skip it. While the hike up is physically challenging, the lack of oxygen will also get to you if you are not trained for being at altitude. It is possible to rent a horse, but it will take you only half-way up, and you will have to climb down on foot.
If you want to experience the festivals in Bhutan, we recommend that you go there in late summer and fall. That is when Tshechu happens, and it is celebrated throughout the country. About 30 thousand people attend the festival, but we advise you to go to Thimphu. What you will love are the Tshechu ceremonies in which the monks dance and wear all manner of different masks.
The official language in Bhutan is Dzongkha, a Sino-Tibetan language which is written in the Tibetan script. However, locals in urban areas understand English and Hindi, so you may be able to get around just fine. Of course, learning a few basic phrases in the local language cannot hurt.
Bhutanese cuisine is mostly dominated by chili and rice, which many people find quite delicious. However, when ordering a meal, please make it clear that you do not want it spicy. You may not be able to handle it as the locals do, and you do not want to spend hours drinking milk or yogurt just to calm the heat.
Healthwise, we recommend that you only drink bottled water since many diseases are carried through the water system, especially in the summer monsoon season. If you cannot come across bottled water, make sure that you only drink boiled water.
As far as safety is concerned, Bhutan is one of the safest countries in the world. They have their issues, but tourists are rarely affected by any of it. Sure, there are petty thieves here and there, but use your common sense, and you should not fall victim.
The people in Bhutan are hospitable, and they will appreciate you if you respect their culture. When you enter a religious site, you have to remove your shoes and any head covering. When visiting a monastery, it is considered respectful to make a small donation to the monks, but it is not mandatory. You can do as you choose. Do not forget that you cannot take any photographs inside the temples. Also, if you see a beautiful lake and you are tempted to take a swim, don’t. The Bhutanese people believe that many of their lakes are sacred. You cannot wash your clothes or throw rocks in the lakes, either.
The bottom line is that Bhutan should be on your bucket list. The country is absolutely gorgeous, and you will return home with incredible memories.