Bhutan

Permit and VISA in Bhutan

All international visitors need a valid Passport and VISA to visit Bhutan except citizens of India, Bangladesh and Maldives who only need a valid Passport. VISA for Bhutan are issued either at Paro airport when you are entering by flight or at Gelephu, Phuentsholing or Samdrup Jongkhar when you are entering by road.

All VISAS are approved in the Thimphu, capital city of Bhutan, and issued to tourists who have booked Bhutan travel with a local licensed tour operator directly or through other travel agent. Then the applications are submitted for tourist visas to the Tourism Council of Bhutan in Thimphu.

All visitors must obtain VISA clearance from Thimphu before traveling to Bhutan. It takes a minimum of 10 days to process and without it, air tickets to Bhutan cannot be purchased in any way. Then the authorized local tour operator or international tour operator can proceed online Visa applications so that you need not to visit a Bhutanese Embassy or Consulate. Before issuing travel VISA all tour payment including a US $40 visa fee must be done. The cash stays with the Bhutan Tourism Council until travel in the country is completed. It takes approximately 72 hours to be approved of VISA once the full payment has been deposited.

Direct flights to Bhutan are available from Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Singapore and Thailand. So the international travelers except from these countries must require any of those countries VISA before transiting through. Nepal and Thailand offer VISA on arrival or VISA waiver for some nationalities. However, India requires VISA for most nationalities to enter. India allows 50 nationalities to acquire an electronic visa online without sending travel papers or going to a consulate.

The minimum aggregate cost for a Bhutanese VISA is $250 a day during the peak season, and $200 a day for the off-season that includes the costs of transportation, accommodation, meals, and some entry charges.

Individuals who come as visitors of the Bhutanese government and individuals who get a formal welcome to Bhutan from “a national of some standing” or a volunteer association do not require to book a tour to visit the country.

VISA clearance letter must be shown while entering Bhutan. After that, the VISA will be stamped into a Passport.

Daily life:

  • Normally Bhutanese people greet each other by a slight bow with opened hands to show respect. Hand shaking is not common in Bhutan but it can be accepted as the norm of communication.
  • Most of the people wear gho and kira, the national dress of the Kingdom. It is mandatory to wear these dresses in school, government office and formal occasion. Government expect visitors to wear proper dress when entering in Dzongs and monasteries.
  • The Bhutanese family always serves the guest first. Culturally we don’t serve oneself. There are always some persons for the service particularly ladies members of the family serve invited person and other members of the family.
  • Traditionally people eat their meal sitting on the wooden floor with their right hand. Before eating the meal, they make a short prayer and put small morsel of food on the floor as a symbol of offering to spirit and deities.
  • Bhutanese people use both hands together for giving and receiving somethings. This is a sign of the respect towards giver or receiver.
  • When we enter the room and sacred places, we leave our shoes outside the door. We don’t point out someone or sacred objects with index finger instead we show with the palm of the hand. Showing the sole towards someone or sacred object is considered impolite.
  • The Dzongs, temples and monasteries are always rounded in clockwise direction. People also leave some money in the alter of the monastery or temple like a gesture of offering.

 

Birth:

Bhutanese people prohibit to visit the guest in the home of new born for 3 days. After third day’s purification ritual people come to visit to see new born baby. The head lama (Buddhist priest) of the local temple has a right to give a name to new born baby. So, parents go to the local temple to pay homage to the god and for name giving ritual in the temple. Often the name given to the baby is associated with the deities and the horoscope is written according to the time and date of birth of new born following Bhutanese calendar.

 

Marriage:

Traditionally arrange marriage is practiced in Bhutan and in the eastern Bhutan cross cuisine marriage is followed. But today most people marriage in their own choice. Even though the parents select future half of their children, they have right to reject or accept. So, they have more freedom to select their future wife or husband. Often the marriage takes place in the monastery or the temple performed by the head lama. After the marriage ceremony, the new couple receive the khada and gifts from the invited persons as symbol of blessing. Then the reception begins.

In the western Bhutan the husband goes to the parent’s house of his wife whereas in the eastern Bhutan wife moves into her husbands’ paents house.  They can choose their own house too.

 

Death:

In Bhutan the cremation is practiced when the person is dead. Parallelly in some parts of the Bhutan ground burial and sky burial are practiced. In sky burial they leave the flesh of deceased body to be devoured by vultures. In Bhutanese belief, death is the passage to reborn. So, many rituals are performed for a safe journey towards the new life.  7th, 14th, 21st, and 49th day after the death of the person are considered important and in these days the family of deceased person erect prayer flags in the name deceased and perform religious ritual. After the first year of death, according to the lunar calendar of Bhutan, the ritual death anniversary is held each year in the day of the dead. Relatives and neighbors come with alcohol and foods to attend such rituals.

Name Town Start Date End Date
Punakha Drubchen Punakha Mar 9, 2022 Mar 11, 2022
Punakha Tshechu Punakha Mar 12, 2022 Mar 14, 2022
Tharpaling Thongdrol Bumthang Mar 18, 2022
Zhemgang Tshechu Zhemgang Apr 9, 2022 Apr 11, 2022
Talo Tshechu Punakha Apr 9, 2022 Apr 11, 2022
Gasa Tshechu Gasa Apr 9, 2022 Apr 11, 2022
Gomphukora Trashigang Apr 9, 2022 Apr 11, 2022
Paro Tshechu Paro Apr 12, 2022 Apr 16, 2022
Chhorten Kora Trashi Yangtse Apr 30, 2022
Rhododendron Festival Thimphu Apr 15, 2022 Apr 17, 2022
Domkhar Tshechu Bumthang May 11, 2022 May 13, 2022
Ura Yakchoe Bumthang May 13, 2022 May 17, 2022
Nimalung Tshechu Bumthang July 7, 2022 July 9, 2022
Kurjey Tshechu Bumthang July 9, 2022
Haa Summer Festival Haa Valley July 9, 2022 July 10, 2022
Mushroom Festival Thimphu Aug 15, 2022 Aug 16, 2022
Tour of the Dragon Bumthang Sep 3, 2022
Thimphu Drubchen Thimphu Oct 1, 2022
Wangdue Tshechu Wangdue Phodrang Oct 3, 2022 Oct 5, 2022
Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Bumthang Oct 5, 2022 Oct 7, 2022
Thimphu Tshechu Thimphu Oct 5, 2022  Oct 7, 2022
Gangtey Tshechu Wangdue Phodrang Oct 7, 2022 Oct 9, 2022
Thangbi Mani Bumthang Oct 8, 2022 Oct 10, 2022
Jhomolhari Mountain Festival Thimphu Oct 14, 2022 Oct 15, 2022
Chhukha Tshechu Chukha  Nov 1, 2022 Nov 3, 2022
Jakar Tshechul Bumthang Nov 1, 2022 Nov 3, 2022
Dechenphu Tshechu Thimphu Nov 3, 2022
Jambay Lhakhang Drup Bumthang Nov 8, 2022 Nov 12, 2022
Prakhar Duchhoed Bumthang Nov 9, 2022 Nov 11, 2022
Royal Highland Festival Gasa
Bhutan Bird Festival Zhemgang
Black Necked Crane Festival Wangdue Phodrang Nov 11, 2022
Pemagatshel Tshechu Pemagatshel Dec 1, 2022 Dec 3, 2022
Trashigang Tshechu Trashigang Dec 1, 2022 Dec 3, 2022
Mongar Tshechu Mongar Dec 1, 2022 Dec 3, 2022
Jambay Lhakhang Singye Cham Bumthang Dec 7, 2022
Nalakhar Tshechu Bumthang Dec 8, 2022 Dec 10, 2022
Druk Wangyel Tshechu Thimphu Dec 13, 2022
Trongsa Tshechu Trongsa Dec 30, 2022 Jan 1, 2023
Lhuentse Tshechu Lhuentse Dec 30, 2022 Jan 1, 2023
Nabji Lhakhang Drup Trongsa Jan 6, 2023 Jan 7,2023