Practical information

Practical Travel Information

Bhutan is a mountain destination in its upper part. If you plan to do a trek in Bhutan, do not hesitate to contact our Travel Designers (> Free quotation) for the preparation of your bag. Furthermore, find below general and practical information to prepare your trip to Bhutan.

The post
The postal service is slow but quite reliable. Allow one week for sending a letter to Europe, and three for America. Up to 5 kg, parcels should be sent by registered post.
Note: the beauty of Bhutanese stamps.

Telephone:
Making international calls is not a problem since there are small shops with the IST/STD sign offering this service in all the big cities. In hotels you will have to pay taxes in addition and these can sometimes be rather high. The country code is 975.

Internet
Internet access is available in the cities. But expect connections that are at times rather slow. It may also be noted that power cuts are quite frequent!

GSM coverage
If you have a mobile phone you can take a world option to receive calls or make calls. WARNING: though it is quite easy to call from most of the cities, sometimes there is no network in the villages! On the other hand you may find it very difficult to get in touch with your message service to hear your messages.

Bhutanese currency is called Ngultrum (Nu.), subdivided into Chetrum: 100 Chetrum = 1 Ngultrum.
Its value is pegged to the Indian rupee.

The exchange rate:
1 Euro = 57 Nu
1 Dollar US = 45 Nu

Tipping is not mandatory, but is appreciated, especially by the guide and the chauffeur with whom you will be spending a number of days. On an average, you should give the equivalent of 2 to 3 USD to the guide, slightly lesser to the chauffeur, and double to the trekking guide. Bargaining is not at all prevalent.
Indian rupees are accepted everywhere in Bhutan, except for Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Payment through credit card is not very widespread and is often limited to deluxe hotels.

If you do find any ATMs, you must know that they are only connected to Bhutanese banks. Therefore you will not be able to withdraw money. Traveler’s cheques and hard cash are the best options to pay your expenses. Most of the foreign currencies are accepted; US dollar, Euro, Indian Rupee, Yen, Thai Baht, Pound Sterling, Hong Kong dollar, Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, Singapore dollar, Danish kroner, Norwegian kroner and Swedish kroner.
Foreign currencies can be exchanged in banks in the major cities and in reputed handicraft emporia.

Your health during travel depends on the care taken while preparing the trip and once on the spot, on the observance of a minimum level of day-to-day rules. Health related risks are generally quite slender if a minimum level of prevention has been observed and usual basic precautions have been taken prior to departure. Bhutan is not a risky country. It is best to follow certain simple hygiene related rules.
Wash your hands frequently, and especially before meals (antimicrobial solutions are available in pharmacies that can be used without rinsing, very useful during excursions). Make sure that you maintain perfect corporal hygiene and take proper care of skin wounds. Do not drink tap water as it is not drinking water; only drink water boiled for 30 minutes before being filtered, or preferably sealed bottled water.
There are malaria pockets in areas close to the borders located below 1200m of altitude. The best even in this case is to be protected (repellents applied on the skin and the clothes).
Which vaccinations will you need?
• Mandatory vaccination: No vaccination is mandatory for going to Bhutan
• Universal vaccination: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Poliomyelitis, Whooping cough, Hepatitis B
• Vaccinations specific to Bhutan: Typhoid, Hepatitis A
• Possible vaccinations: A+C Meningococcal meningitis or better still: ACYW135 (only from authorized centres), Measles
Mountain sickness
Trekking in the Himalayan states such as Bhutan necessitates equipment, physical preparation and observance of strict rules. One should be aware of the fact that for a trek to be successful, it should be a hiking trip in the hills and not a sports feat from which one comes back completely exhausted. Nature, landscapes, villages and their inhabitants are as interesting at 3000 metres altitude as they are at 4500 metres altitude.
To escape from mountain sickness, one should always keep in mind a set of a few simple rules: get acclimatized, climb gradually (stages of less than 600 metres per day between 3000 and 4500 metres, and less than 400 metres beyond that) and “climb high, lie low”. These rules will generally ensure that the onset of acute mountain sickness is kept at bay, and especially the dreadful complications thereof such as high altitude pulmonary edema and brain swelling. Those people who have a medical history or those who do not indulge in regular physical activity are advised to conduct a hypoxia test in France.
Hospitals in Bhutan
The hospitals in Thimphu and Paro have minimal infrastructure, an archaic and rudimentary health system elsewhere (remedy in Delhi in practice). Buying an insurance policy for assistance in case of repatriation on medical ground may be useful, but in practice emergency repatriation is not possible.

Personal effects and equipment

Having appropriate equipment is one of the essential components of a successful a trip! Travel light and you will make baggage handling much less painful: try to keep your luggage below 20 kilos.

Bags:
• a soft bag if possible. Do not forget to stick a label prior to departure with your address and phone number and the address and phone number of Shanti Travel
• a small 30 litre rucksack for the day (camera, sun cream, etc)

Personal clothes and equipment:
• light cotton pants
• shirts, t-shirts (opt for long sleeves, ideal for protection from the sun)
• 1 thick pullover or fleece sweatshirt from December to February when temperatures could drop up to 5°C at night
• a good pair of sunglasses
• a head scarf, cap or hat
• a pair of light shoes
• a pocket torch or a head torch (+ batteries)
• a water-free hand cleansing gel

Personal pharmacy:
• total sunscreen lotion
• lip balm
• broad-spectrum antibiotic
• aspirin
• Imodium + intetrix
• Elastoplast
• skin disinfectant
• bandages

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