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FAQs

Bhutan FAQs

ACCESS BY AIR

The national carrier Druk Air and private carrier Bhutan Air operates from the only international airport in Bhutan at Paro.  It has flight to Bagdogra, Bangkok, Delhi, Dhaka, Guwahati, Kathmandu, Kolkata and Singapore. Druk Air has ATR turboprop and Airbus A319 aircrafts whereas Bhutan Air operates Airbus A319.  Three domestic airports link Paro to Bathpalathang Bumthang, Gelephu and Yongphula Trashigang.

 

ACCESS BY ROAD

if travelling via Nepal, it is possible to fly from Kathmandu to the east of the country Bhadrapur airport and drive via India to the Bhutanese town of Phuntsholing, gateway point in the south west.  For those arriving in Bagdogra airport in India, it is a drive of 4 hour to Phuntsholing. One can also use the Samdrup Jongkhar in south east Bhutan connecting the state of Assam, India.

 

GEOGRAPHY

Bhutan lies in between two immense land mass; to the north Tibet TAR plateau and to the south the Gangetic plains of India.  It is located between 80*45' and 92*10' longitude east and between 26*40' and 28*15' latitude north and covers 47,000 sq kms.  It is basically mountainous with its mid valleys being the most inhabited, followed by the towns in the southern foothills of the country.  The far north is a sparsely inhabited.

 

CLIMATE

Weather conditions are ideal for visiting the country in all seasons, but winter is cooler from 2nd  half of December to February.  Days are warm and sunny, though night time temperatures can take a dip.  The seasons can be designated as : Spring from March to May, Summer from June to mid July, Autumn from September to November, Winter from December to February. 

 

South Bhutan is tropical, with a monsoon season.  The east is warmer than the west.  The central valleys of Punakha, Wangdi Phodrang, Gangtey, Mongar, Tashigang and Lhuntshi enjoy a semi tropical climate with very cool winters; whereas Ha, Paro, Thimphu, Tongsa and Bumthang have a colder climate with ocassional snowfalls in the winter.

 

POPULATION

Bhutan has a population of a little more than 700,000 people mostly living in scattered towns and the broad fertile valleys of the inner Himalayas at altitude of 1000 metres to 3000 metres.  Almost 90% of the populace are engaged in agriculture and livestock raising being the main pillars of the economy. 

 

RELIGION

Almost 90% practice the Tantric form of Mahayana Buddhism of the Drukpa Kargyud Sect.  The balance 10% are Hindus Southern Bhutanese of Nepalese origins.  Bhutan has many Dzongs which are very large castle like complexes with religious and government administration offices alongside one another.

 

LANGUAGE

The national language is "Dzongkha" meaning the language spoken in Dzongs.  The written form is derived from ancient sanscrit script.  Nepali is spoken in towns and by a majority of people engaged in business.  Local dialets include Sharchopkha and Khenkha.

 

VISA

All visitors to Bhutan must hold valid passports for entry into the country.  Visas are issued only after a tour program is booked and confirmed.  Asian - Bhrikuti will advice on the procedures to be followed.  A US$40 flat visa fee is valid for the period of visit prepaid by the agency.

 

HEALTH

No major immunisation are required for a visit to Bhutan.  An updated list is available for possible prevention before travel.

 

MONEY

US Dollars cash can be changed in hotels and banks.  It is adviced to have them exchanged in larger towns Paro, Thimphu, Phuntsholing and Bumthang.  Credit cards are gradually being accepted in hotels but still limited with shops.  There are ATMs in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang.  No exchange is available while on trekking. 

 

The exchange rate is Ngultrum Nu 79.90 = Indian Rupees 79.90 = US$1.00 as of 15 July 2022.

 

Those who are travelling from Nepal to Bhutan, can change all their excess Nepali Rupees to Indian Rupees which can be used in Bhutan.  If travelling from Bhutan to Nepal, clients can change their Bhutanese Ngultrum to Indian Rupees which can be used in Nepal.  Please note Nepal Rupees and Bhutanese Ngultrum can only be used in their respective countries.

 

CLOTHING

The wide range of temperatures makes choosing a clothing list a little challenging.  Asian Encounters – Bhrikuti Himalayan Treks has a comprehensive clothing list for specific trips when bookings are confirmed.  Layered clothings are recommended for all seasons.  During most of the year light woolens with wind breakers are sufficient for day wear, conservative sportswear is the appropriate style for a traveller.  Comfortable sports shoes are suggested; whereas trekking boots only if you plan on hiking.

 

OFFICE HOURS

Most office, banks, government offices are open from 10 am to 5 pm Monday through to mid Saturday.  Shops and restaurant usually open seven days a week.  In the winter months though the work day time are 10 am to 2 pm.  Embassies (only Bangladesh, India and Kuwait) and International organisations are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

TIME

Bhutan is 6 hrs ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  It is half an hour later than India's and 20 mins ahead of Nepal time. 

 

ELECTRICITY/TELEPHONE/CABLE

Bhutan uses 220 volts alternating current.  All urban and rural areas have phone and mobile communication.  International Direct Dialing system and Internet is available in all the major towns. SIM cards of Druk Cell and Tashi Cell can be purchased for local use. Some international SIM mobile phones can also avail of service.

 

HOTELS

The hotels and guest houses considered for use in the tours are the best available reflecting traditional Bhutanese architecture and of generally good standards.  All have their own restaurant and bar, toilet and bathing facilities.  While all meals are served in the hotels, in Thimphu and Paro there would be opportunity to eat in speciality restaurants.  On special occasions outdoor catering is done as well.  Bhutan’s very modest tourist arrivals make it incumbent that all the hotels built are of corresponding small size.  A big hotel could be one with not more than 80 double rooms! A very important segment of super deluxe boutique hotels such as the Aman Resorts available in 5 locations, Uma Cumo Resort Paro, Le Meridien hotels in Thimphu and Paro, other international brands Six Senses, Dhensa have opened to fave reviews and eclectic clientle.  Asian – Bhrikuti will provide the accommodation as per client’s preference and up-grades available.

 

RESTAURANTS / FOOD

Dining is a mix of Continental, Pan Asian including Chinese, Indian, Thai cuisine, delicious Bhutanese meals and for those adventurous a dash of the famous hot chillies "emma dazi" the Bhutanese love.  Emphasis is on fresh vegetables, rice and noodles with chicken, beef and pork.  Meals are often served buffet style.  Both fresh and canned fruits and juices from orchards in the south are frequently offered.  Hotel bars are stocked with more local than foreign liquor, bottled beer and mineral water

 

ALTITUDE & ROADS

All roads are mountain highways often winding along scenic river valleys or going up high passes and forests.  Since traffic is very light it is a delight to travel here.  Mode of transport within the country is by a fleet of modern mini-buses, cars and 4-wheel drive vehicles.  There are no domestic airlines or trains.  Roads are uniformly well maintained and  connect to all major sightseeing places. The mountainous terrain restrict the average speed of vehicles to less than about 40 km per hour. The mean average altitude of the towns being not much over 3000 metre, travellers do not experience any situation caused by high altitude.

 

THE PEOPLE

With the opening of roads, small towns have sprung up and visitors can occasionally find modern automobiles parked in front of centuries old temples.  But most of Bhutan continues to live as it has for hundreds of years – in rustic, rural homes surrounded by fields of rice, maize, buckwheat and wheat or, at higher altitudes in nomadic tents woven of yak hair.  This life close to nature has moulded the hardy charter of the Bhutanese.

 

ETHNIC ORIGINS

The Bhutanese fall into 3 broad ethnic groups – the Sharchops who live mostly in the east, the Ngalops living in the western part of Bhutan and Lhotsampa people of Nepalese origin who are in the south.  In the high reaches live nomadic yak herders.  The mid-hill valley are inhabited by farmers and the foothills support trading communities and orchards.

 

LANGUAGE

The national language is Dzongkha and each region has its own dialect.  English has been the principal medium of instruction in public schools since the 1960’s and is spoken by many.  Nepali is also widely used in the country.

 

COSTUME

The national dress of the country is Kira and Gho which is worn as a matter of rule.  The women wear the Kira a long finely woven dress secured at the waist by a cotton belt.  Under it is worn a silk or cotton long sleeved blouse “thyogho”. The men wear Gho similar to the Tibetan dress, a sort of highland plaid with a huge fold above the belt forming a pouch.  Under this is worn a long sleeved shirt with broad cuff. 

 

ARCHERY

Archers throughout take great pride in hitting any portion of a dinner plate sized target placed 140 metre away with traditional bow and now increasingly with modern bow.  Every village has its own archery teams and range; high spirited competitions take place as part of every festival. It is a delight to watch as each team compete in a surreal and enthusiastic way.

 

Bhutan the mystical Kingdom  is a destination for all seasons and is welcoming of all visitors.  

 

Choose and Book a Bhutan holiday to enjoy its many beautifull places and people!

Tibet FAQ

TRAVEL TO TIBET TAR : 

Lhasa, Tibet TAR is well connected with multiple daily flights domestically to all major cities in the mainland including Ali, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Kunming, Lanzhou, Nyingchi, Shanghai, Xian and Xining.

 

And internationally with Kathmandu, Nepal.

 

Some of the airlines include; Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Chongqing Airlines, Lucky Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Tibet Air, West Air China,

 

BY ROAD

From Nepal the entry point to Lhasa overland is from the north east Nepalese border town of Rasuwa adjoining Kyirong or Gyirong, Tibet TAR.  From Kathmandu, capital of Nepal it is just 2 days drive away.  To the east it is a 5 or more day drive from Chengdu and a shorter time from Golmud.

 

BY TRAIN

One of the most spectacular train journeys in the world on the highland of the Tibetan plateau. Daily train service connects to Beijing, Chengdu, Golmud, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xining.  Chair car seating and soft sleepers are available.  A dining car serves excellent meals and light snacks on push carts are available.  Views of snow mountains, rugged terrain, azure blue sky, vast lakes, rivers and yak pastures can be seen on this remarkable trip.  Wild yaks, Tibetan gazelles, wild ass, marmot, wolf, many species inhabit this permafrost region. 

 

GEOGRAPHY

A beautiful land rich in natural and cultural heritage, Tibet is located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, south west of China.  It has an average altitude of 4,000 metre above sea level with more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metre of which eleven are over 8,000 metre.  With an area of 1.2 million sq. km it borders Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Xingjiang provinces; to neighbouring countries in the south Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal and Pakistan.

 

POPULATION

There are 2 million people mostly living in the central area in cities like Lhasa, Xigatse, Gyantse and Tsedang.  Many more live in smaller communities in valleys and alpine pastures.  The far west and southern areas towards the Himalayan range are sparsely populated.  A majority are farmers and raise yak and sheep. A growing agriculture farming under hot houses have sprung up throughout the region.

 

RELIGION

Almost all practice Mahayana Buddhism. There are also pre Buddhist Bon-po and Islam. 

 

LANGUAGE

Is derived from the Sanskrit text.  There are more than 20 local dialects that are spoken.  Tourism related individuals speak working English.

 

CLIMATE

The best time to visit Tibet is from April through to November.  When the rest of South Asian subcontinent is hot and humid, the highland plateau of Tibet is most inviting.  Spring is from April to June, followed by a short Summer in July to August when it rains a little, Autumn from September to November and Winter from December to March.

 

VISA

All visitors to Tibet must travel with passports with a minimum 6 months validity.  After a package tour is confirmed, visa is issued by the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu on presentation of passport.  Visitors travelling from mainland China require a Tibet Travel Permit from the point of entry while boarding flight, train or road journey. Please contact our agency for further details. Clients are recommended to apply for visas at the earliest. 

 

ELECTRICITY / TELPHONE

All towns in Tibet are electrified using 220 volts alternating current.  Most major cities have International call facilities.  Mobile connectivity has made good progress and internet is available.  Satellite phones are also available for rentals especially for expeditions.

 

HOTELS / ACCOMMODATIONS

Tibet has seen a proliferation of 3 to 4 star hotels and luxe category which include Hotel Shangri La, Hilton hotel, Inter Continental hotel, St Regis and many Boutique styled accommodations especially in Lhasa.  Tourist standard hotels are 2 to 3 star, the further away from cities the standards are lower.  Some journeys especially in the far west viz Mt Kailash have only local guest house with basic common amenities and shared dormitory accommodation.  Larger hotels are clean and serve good meals.  Hotels used by Asian Bhrikuti are the best in their category.

 

RESTAURANTS

There are always restaurants outside hotels.  Our guides will recommend the better ones.  For trips away from the big cities there are less choices and Tibetan cuisine are limited in variety.  For treks or distant excursion, it is handy to carry anything that can be brewed with hot water especially instant noodle, soups, etc.

 

ROADS

The major highways are well maintained.  Where expedition grade trips are booked, expect dirt road that can be bumpy and dusty by 4-wheel drive vehicle while the majority of travel is by mini van or coaches. The new entry point of Rasuwa - Kyirong 146kms north east of Kathmandu is open to all tourists.

 

CUSTOMS

There is no restriction on use of still and video cameras, camcorders as long as they are registered by a customs official on your passport.  Not permitted are printed matters considered unsuitable by the Chinese Government.  Customs regulations forbid the export of art objects created prior to 1959 or souvenirs in large amounts deemed excessive for personal use.

 

TIME

08 hours ahead of GMT.  Note Tibet is linked to Beijing time so when you cross the border from Nepal the time change is considerable.  Nepal is 05 hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT.

 

BUSINESS HOURS

Most businesses are open between 0900 hrs and 1230 hrs and from 1430 hrs until 1730 hrs, these close on SUNDAYS.  Government offices are usually closed on SATURDAY afternoon and all day SUNDAY. There are many banks and ATMs in major urban areas.  Opening hours are from 1000 hrs to 1330 hrs and from 1600 hrs. to 1830 hrs.  It is closed all day on SUNDAY.

 

MONEY

RENMINBI RMB or YUAN the people's money used by millions of Chinese everyday circulates in notes of higher denomination upto 100 and lower value coins.  The preferred currency to use while travelling is US Dollars or EURO cash. With digital transformation; Alipay / Wechat mobile app is most widely used with even fruit vendors using it! 

 

As of 15 July 2022 exchange rate 1US$ = 6.76 Yuan. 

 

CLOTHING

The check-list items are :  Comfortable walking shoes, dust masks, sun hat, sun glasses, sunscreen lotion, a flashlight, personal first aid, toiletteries and recommended clothings.

 

Choose and Book a visit to Tibet "Roof of the World" and enjoy a truly ancient land full of history and cultural heritages that continue to amaze!

Nepal FAQs

Access to Nepal

By Air, major international airlines and charter flights operate to Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport from Abu Dhabi, Bangalore, Bangkok, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Kolkata, Kunming, Dhaka, Delhi, Doha, Dubai, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Lhasa, Paro, Narita Tokyo and Varanasi.  Among airlines operating into Nepal are Air Arabia, Air China, American Bangladesh Air, Bangladesh Biman, Batik Air, Bhutan Air, Cathay Dragon, China Eastern, China Southern, Druk Air, Emirates, Fly Dubai, Gulf Air, Himalaya Airways, Indian, Indigo, Jazeera airways, Kuwait, Malaysian Airways, Nepal Airlines, Qatar Air, Silkair, Spicejet, SriLankan, Thai Smile, Turkish Airline and Vistara.

 

Recently Nepal has opened Gautam Buddha International Airport in the south of the country offering opportunities to more international arrivals.  GBIA is near the historic area of Lumbini, birthplace of Lord Buddha.  Currently Jazeera airways operates a daily flight with Wiz Air scheduled to start its service in November 2022.

 

By Land, overland travel is also possible from India through multiple entry points Kakarbitta, Raxaul, Sunauli, Jogbini to the south and to the north via Rasuwa Kyirong, it is a drive of 2 day to reach Lhasa.  Or land route available to trek across from the western town of Simikot Nepal to Mt Kailash, TAR.

 

Population

The country's population is 29.14 million as per cencus of 2020; with approximately 18% of the populace live in the more than 20 cities and towns.  The rest live in the mid hill valleys of the southern “Terrai” plains and in scattered villages and mountain communities.

 

Language 

Nepali is spoken by a majority of the populace and is the official language while Newari is spoken by 4% in and around the Kathmandu valley.  A dozen or so  ethnic groups speak as many as 50 different dialects  making up the remainder. In the urban areas general populace would understand English and the younger generation most likely to.

 

Religion

The populace of Nepal largely follow Hinduism with Buddhism as its second religion. Minority are Muslim and other ethnic religion predating to Bon Buddhism. The country is harmonious with all religions in practice.

 

Geography

Landlocked, Nepal lies between India and Tibet, China.  Almost rectangular in shape, it is 885 kms from east to west and about 145 to 241 kms north to south.  From sub tropical jungle to icy Himalaya, it is home to eight of the world’s ten highest mountains.

 

Climate 

Nepal’s climate is governed by the monsoon, a seasonal wind that draws moisture up from the Indian ocean from approximately mid-June till early October, and  blows dry air down from central Asia for most of the rest of the year.  The summer monsoon brings heavy rain  (or snow at very  high elevations) except north of the main Himalayan chain.  Precipitation varies, however, from east to west – the eastern part of the country getting most of the rain.  Mid-valley centres like Kathmandu, Pokhara enjoy ambient weather making it a very pleasant throughout the year.

 

Visa & Immigration

All visitors must hold valid passports for entry into the country.  Visas are available at various Nepalese Embassies and Consulates worldwide or online or upon arrival in the country at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and other land entry points.  A minimum 60 day visa costs US$ 30.  It can be extended for the second and third month at US $50 rate per month.  A gratis (free) transit visa is offered on arrival to visitors who stay for 72hrs or less.

 

Health

No innoculations are required for Nepal.  An updated list of preventive procedures will be available before travel. Though as of date fully vaccinated certificate or negative PCR test results are required to board flights into the country.

 

Clothing

Casual clothing is most suitable wherever you travel.  Warm clothing would be necessary from October through mid March while lightweight clothing along with some rain gear is recommended for the summer months July - September.

 

Office Hours

Government offices and Banks are open from 10 am till 5 pm Sunday through Friday.  Saturday is a holiday but tourist shops and restaurants remain open seven days a week.  Embassies and international organisation observe the usual two day weekend.  The latest news is Nepal will follow international holidays by observing Sundays as day offs from 15th May 2022.

 

Time

Nepal is 5 hrs and 40 mins ahead of GMT,  2hr 15min behind China time, 15min behind Bhutan time and 15min ahead of India time.

 

Money / Credit cards

The preferred currency to carry is U.S.Dollars, Euro, Yuan or Indian Rupees in cash.  These are easily exchanged at banks, money exchange counters, hotels and travel agencies in major tourist centers at varying charges.  Visa, Master cards and American Express (much less), are welcome at major hotels, restaurants, carpet and curio shops throughout the country.

 

The current exchange rate is Rupees 129.23 = US $ 1 (22 Sep 2022)

 

ATMS are available in all urban areas.

 

Duty Free Items

It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old, sacred images, paintings, manuscripts that are valued for cultural and religious reasons.  Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal’s cultural heritage and belong here.  If in doubt contact the Depart of Archaeology or the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office.

 

Export 

It is illegal to export objects over 100 years old, sacred images, paintings, manuscripts that are valued for cultural and religious reasons.  Visitors are advised not to purchase such items as they are Nepal’s cultural heritage and belong here.  If in doubt contact the Depart of Archaeology or the Chief Customs Administrator, TIA Customs Office. 

 

Electricity / Telephone / Cable

Major towns in Nepal are electrified using 220 volts alternating current.  Inter regional phone systems within the country are excellent, making calls possible even from the remotest corners.  International Direct Dialing system is available in all the cities and towns.  Email and internet service is readily found and inexpensive outside the hotels.

 

Hotels

All classes of accommodations are available from guest house types to luxury deluxe 5-stars, mountain resorts, boutique and heritage properties, wildlife jungle lodges to village home hospitality and the latest trend of wellness spa resorts.  Please check our section of hotels available.

 

Altitude & roads

Major highways in Nepal are broad roads often winding along scenic river valleys and the plains.  Those leading to trail head go up high passes and are mountain grade.  These are mostly broad enough for two vehicles to pass one another.  The east west highway is a remarkable cross-country journey to undertake.

 

Festivals

Bada Dashain (September-October) is truly the national festival of Nepal almost like Christmas and New Year.  Every Nepalese is stirred by the prospects of the joy this festival brings with it especially after the monsoon rains. 

 

Dashain is a time for family get togethers, feasting, merriment and dressing in all your finery.  This commemorates the victory of good over evil. 

 

Tihar, Laxmi Puja, Dipawali or the Festival of Lights (October-November), occurs a forthnight after Dashain.  The festivity lasts five days marked by worship to different animals; crow, dog and cow on different days. Festivals are celebrated in the mountains as well, such as the Mani Rimdu festivities (September upto November) of the Thyangboche and Chewang monasteries. 

 

Mid September to Mid- December is the high tourist season. Farmers will be reaping a fall harvest and village markets flaunt the bounty.  This is a particular good time for tours and treks. As the air is crisp and clear, views of the Himalayas are awe inspiring. Monasteries and temples throb with festivals, dancing and celebration.  Temperatures are cool and fresh snow shimmers on the high peaks against deep blue skies.

 

Nepal is a destination for all seasons and is welcoming of all visitors.  Choose a holiday to enjoy its many charming places and people!